26th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr PEACOCK presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that this House ensure that legislation for guaranteed and continuing financial support of university teaching and research be enacted.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. Is it a fact that the ban on the export of scrap copper and copper alloy scrap is still in operation in Australia? Are the Australian stocks of scrap copper and copper alloy scrap running at a very high level? Is this state of affairs harshly affecting the economic position of many small merchants in this country? As the Australian price of copper is now higher than the world price, what is the reason for the retention of the ban?
– It is correct to say that there is still a ban on the export from Australia of scrap copper. The honourable gentleman is also right when he says that the quantity of scrap copper held in Australia is rising. As a result, the Department of Trade and Industry and my Department are looking at the matter closely. A matter of policy is involved, of course, and it is being actively considered at present.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I ask: Has he read a report suggesting that the move from Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport at Mascot to Tullamarine is about to begin with the moving of the fire fighting school? Is he in a position to either deny or confirm this report?
– I read a report about this alleged move in a Sydney newspaper this morning. The fire fighting school is a training school conducted by a small unit that has been located at the Sydney Airport for some years. However, it has to be moved to another site to make way for the new terminal complex that is being constructed at the Airport At the lower levels of my Department an examination of alternative suitable locations for this small school has been made. The problem at the Sydney Airport is lack of space. Furthermore, the activities of the school produce a lot of smoke, because fuel and rubber are burnt as part of the training activities, which consequently have to be conducted where they will not interfere with residents in the vicinity of the Airport. Despite all this, the situation has not yet come up for consideration at the higher levels of my Department. It has certainly not yet been referred to me. The only assurance I can give is that the school will be retained in Sydney. We will have to find another site for it either at the Airport or elsewhere in that city.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General and to preface it I should like to quote from a letter I have received from Mr P. E. Morgan, watchmaker, of Rawson Place, Sydney. He writes:
Re late delays in receiving registered mails. On March 13th I received a registered parcel posted Wagga Wagga on 8th March. Then I received another one posted on 6th April on 13th April. This parcel contained stop watches for repairs and were required-
-Order! The honourable member will direct his question.
– I am getting to it.
-Order! The honourable member will direct his question or resume his seat.
– The question is this: the writer said there was a delay of one week in the two instances and stated:
These delays are causing me some concern and could cause me loss of business. I would appreciate it if you would raise this matter at question time in the House as these delays-
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation in his capacity as Acting Minister for Health. Is it a fact that when the Minister was previously Minister for Health he announced that a new type of hearing aid, the Calaide, was being developed by his Department? Has there been any delay in production, and what are the present plans for replacement of older type hearing aids for persons qualified to receive them?
– It is a fact that a new transistorised type of small hearing aid was developed by the Commonwealth Accoustic Laboratories during the time I was Minister for Health. Since then it has actually gone into production. This hearing aid will be suitable to replace the older type of hearing aid for about 50% of the persons who have been approved by the Department of Social Services and by the Repatriation Department to receive hearing aids. My understanding is that there is a five-year programme for changeover to this unit and that last July the first deliveries of the units were made. Up until December of last year about 1,100 units had actually been put into service. If there is any individual case that the honourable member has in mind and he likes to refer it to me I shall see that it is investigated.
– I ask the Prime Minister as Leader of the Government: What effect would a ‘Yes’ vote at the new State referendum in northern New South Wales have on the composition of the Cabinet and Ministry and on other officers of the Parliament in view of the fact that the honourable members for Paterson, New England, Richmond and Lyne and the President of the Senate all occupy official positions in the Parliament? Further, what would be the effect on members of the House of Representatives whose electoral boundaries take in or come within areas of the proposed new State? Would ten new senators need to be elected, or would the election of senators be half the number of elected members of the new State for the House of Representatives?
– The question asked by the honourable gentleman clearly raises some complex legal questions and is somewhat hypothetical in character. I regret that I would not feel capable of giving a definite reply to him on any of these points.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral say when he will be in a position to make a statement relevant to extending television viewing areas, including the relevant area in the central Great Southern region of Western Australia?
– The only information I can give to the honourable member is that I hope to be able to make a statement about the extension of television services in Australia before the House rises at the end of this sessional period.
– Does the Prime Minister know that in the next few months a number of important regional conferences will be held in country districts of New South Wales to deal with the problems of decentralisation and development? As the Minister for National Development has said there is little the Commonwealth can do, will the Prime Minister make a statement setting out clearly and precisely what the Commonwealth Government can do, as a guide to those interested in the important matter of the spread of industry throughout Australia?
– I very much doubt that the honourable member has correctly quoted my colleague, the Minister for National Development.
– lt is in the Hansard report of a recent debate.
– Well, there are various things the Commonwealth Government can do and has been doing in relation to decentralisation. I could mention such developments as the Brigalow land clearance scheme, the construction of beef roads, the assistance given with ports and harbours, the extension of standard gauge railway lines and various other matters of that kind, all of which help towards achieving the general objective of decentralisation. I might also mention the economic climate which the Government maintains and which attracts investment and industry to outlying parts of the Commonwealth. If the honourable member wants me to be more categorical than this or to go into more detail I shall see how far I can go towards meeting his wishes. I have previously pointed out in the House that there is at present in existence a committee representative of the Commonwealth and State Governments which has been conducting discussions on matters of this kind. They are not simple matters nor do they fall within any limited compass. However, the work has been proceeding. I do not think there is any man in public life in Australia who does not give support to the principle of decentralisation. The practical means of bringing it about are for us to determine as best we can according to our respective political philosophies.
– My question, which is supplementary to one asked by the honourable member for Hunter on Tuesday, is addressed to the Minister for Defence. Has he seen a report by the United States Department of Health that American servicemen returning from Vietnam are seeding the population with a resilient oriental strain of venereal disease? Has he noted that this report states that massive doses of penicillin are needed to kill the insensitive strain of organism responsible for this disease? In view of the statement by the Minister about the possibility of Australia becoming a rest and recuperation centre for United States servicemen serving in Vietnam, what action does the Government contemplate to minimise, if not eliminate, the possibility of the introduction of this particular strain of venereal disease into Australia?
– I have not personally seen the report to which the honourable gentleman refers. The particular matter he has touched on in his question is one of the matters for discussion with the United States Army representatives at present in Australia.
– I direct to the Minister for Defence a question about Project Mallard, which was announced by the honourable gentleman last week. Has the Minister seen a report in the American Journal ‘Technology Week’, which was quoted in the Australian ‘Financial Review’ of 19th April, that all major hardware portions for the project will be developed and built by American based companies?
Does the wording of the official announcement of the project imply that American groups will be given the major contracts? [f so, how will Australian industry be able to compete on fair terms for a share of the major production requirements, as stated by the Minister? Can the Minister give the House an estimate of the Australian contribution for research, development and production over the expected period of from five to seven years? Will he assure the House that Australia’s contribution will flow substantially to Australian industry and not be used to subsidise American research and production?
– I have seen the article to which the honourable gentleman refers. In the first place, I think I should indicate that the estimated cost of the project is grossly exaggerated. I can only repeat the assurances given last week that a considerable portion of the total hardware production, as well as some research activity, will be reserved for Australian contractors.
– What percentage of the cost?
– 1 cannot give the precise percentage, because it will also have to do with the competence of Australian industry to handle some of the original research tasks. This matter will be surveyed with the industry tomorrow by my colleague, the Minister for Supply and his technical people. Until we have examined the competence of Australian industry to handle the research task and ultimately to do the production work within the time frame, it is not possible to say how much of the work will be done in Australia; but there is the reservation that Australia will get its fair share in accordance with its contribution to the overall cost of the project.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Army. Some time ago there were reports that the Royal Military College was seeking affiliation with the University of New South Wales. Will the Minister advise whether any progress has been made in this matter?
– For some considerable time there have been negotiations between the Royal Military College and the University of New South Wales to try to work out an arrangement whereby, under affiliation with that University, the courses at the Royal Military College would be lifted to degree status and cadets who reached the appropriate standard would be awarded degrees by the University. Agreement on the broad general principles has now been reached. There will be further discussions between the College and the University on matters of detail, but it is not expected that there will be any difficulty in relation to the remaining matters which need to be decided. For some time there has been a growing need for an increasing number of graduates in the Army because of the growing complexity of modern military operations. This is also evident in Vietnam, where it is quite clear that the operations of military personnel are not purely military operations. This creates a need for the people in charge of these operations to have as broad and as high a standard of education as is possible.
The advisory body which has been in existence in the Royal Military College for some time and on which the University of New South Wales, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney have all been represented, has done a great deal over recent years to assist in raising the level of courses at the College to degree level. Therefore, a minimum of adjustment to these courses will be necessary to meet the standards of the University of New South Wales. When additional details of this matter are known and finalised more information will be available. One of the objectives which we hope will be achieved is an increasing number of cadets coming to the Royal Military College. The College is capable of taking many more cadets than at present meet the standards of entry, and it would be important for the future of the Army that the number of entrants be increased.
– I direct to the Prime Minister a question supplementary to that asked by the honourable member for Shortland. I ask the right honourable gentleman: In the event of the ‘Yes’ case being carried at the new State referendum on 29th April what will be the constitutional position of that new State? Will it be a self-supporting State or will it be a mendicant State? Is it true, as stated by organisers of the New State Movement, that ample funds will be available from the Commonwealth through tax reimbursement grants and from other Commonwealth grants and that it will not be necessary for the government of the new State to impose new taxes at State government level? In the event of the right honourable gentleman being unable to answer this question, as in the case of the question asked by the honourable member for Shortland, will he treat it as a question on notice and give the honourable member for Shortland and me a reply early next week, in view of the importance of having a reply to these two important questions before the referendum on Saturday, 29th April?
– I am always glad to give members of the .House such information as I can which they feel will be of assistance to them in carrying out their parliamentary and other political duties. 1 shall examine the practicability of supplying some information on these matters, which I candidly confess at this point of time I am unable to give. But as I pointed out in reply to the honourable member for Shortland, there is a hypothetical quality about the questions put to me.
– Why hypothetical?
– We have yet to know the outcome, and it would not be practicable, I imagine, to anticipate all the problems which could arise in the creation of a new State. I gather, perhaps incorrectly, that the honourable gentlemen who have asked these questions are themselves not particularly attracted to the idea of the creation of a new Slate.
– That is true.
– While I am glad to supply information I do not wish to lend myself to a propaganda campaign in a matter on which I have no fixed views myself.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. Has his attention been drawn to the reports that Soviet Russia is proposing to increase its assistance to the
Communist aggressors in Vietnam and to compose its differences with the Chinese Communists whom it was only recently describing as criminal madmen, dedicated to world war? Does this suggest the sinister possibility that the Soviet Union has capitulated to the Chinese view and acknowledges its own attitude as revisionist in the sense of that word in Communist jargon? Will the right honourable gentleman have prepared for the information of the House a White Paper on the alleged past differences between the policies of Soviet Russia and Communist China, with particular reference to the statements they have made about each other? Further, will he make time available for the House to debate this matter and its implications for Australia before we rise for the winter recess?
– I have seen something in the Press of the matters to which the honourable gentleman has referred. I cannot claim to have information of an authoritative kind which I would be able to pass on to him. I will, however, consider the practicability of preparing a statement along the lines that he suggests, and also will be glad to go into the question of whether some debate can usefully occur before the conclusion of the present session.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. Has the Government at any time made a survey to ascertain the extent to which poverty exists in Australia? If so, when was this done and what did it reveal? If no such investigation has been made, is there any intention to make one in the near future? If there is no such intention, can the Prime Minister tell the House how, if at all, the Government expects to arrive at a proper conclusion regarding what is required by way of social services or by other means to remove or at least substantially to reduce the poverty which many people undoubtedly are suffering at this moment?
– I suggest that the question would be more appropriately answered by the Minister for Social Services.
– The honourable member has referred to a subject which has been aired in the community apparently as a result of the promulgation of some preliminary results of a survey taken by the University of Melbourne. The Government has consistently adopted the attitude that it is not the proper function of a Government department to undertake a survey of this nature. To my mind it is right that a university should conduct a survey, as the University of Melbourne is doing at present. An inquiry by a Government department would be part and parcel of the process of making an accurate assessment of conditions and probably would make the recipients of social service benefits very suspicious. I say that because one of the difficulties associated with the payment of social service benefits is to maintain contact with the recipients without appearing to inquire unduly into their personal affairs. I feel that a university is the correct body to assess dispassionately any circumstances such as those referred to by the honourable member. As the honourable member is aware, the Government considers each year during the budgetary discussions both the taxation implications and the necessity, within the overall context of living conditions in Australia, of desirable additions to the social services budget. Since it came to office over seventeen years ago this Government has maintained an outstanding record in improving the range and extent of social services. Mr Speaker, I feel that with this record behind it there is no justification for the Government to vary its present policy concerning surveys.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. I refer to the progress of the Plowshare programme in the United States of America in bringing about a radical reduction in the cost of dam and canal construction. Can the Minister say whether or not any action has been taken to facilitate the study of these operations by Australian engineers, or to take advantage of the graduate course in nuclear civil engineering which is now being conducted at Stanford University in California?
– The Commonwealth has exhibited considerable interest in the Plowshare operations. Not long ago it sent three officers - one from the Bureau of Mineral Resources, one from the Atomic
Energy Commission, and one from the Snowy Mountains Authority - to the USA to inspect the work being done and to see what application it could have in Australia. My view at present is that most of the investigation in the United States is confined to underground explosions designed to step up the quantity of gas that may be extracted from known gas fields. There is also a study under the Plowshare operation to determine whether nuclear power could reduce the cost of the construction of a new Panama Canal. So far it appears that nuclear explosions would considerably reduce the cost of building such a canal. Of course there are enormous safeguard problems associated with this. It is of interest that Australia has been asked to send its own authority, Dr Wilson, to look at the safeguards proposed by the USA and to say whether they are adequate or not. The honourable member will realise that the considerable problems associated with the agreement on the nuclear test ban will have to be overcome before nuclear explosions can be used for any of these projects. All I can say at present is that although we are very actively interested and are watching the programme closely, it does seem to me that the use of atomic explosions in Australia is still some distance away.
! STANDARDISATION OF RAIL GAUGES
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Can the Minister tell me - if not, will he make an early statement on the subject - what arrangements are being made for the standardisation of the railway line between South Australia and Broken Hill in regard to both the line between Cockburn and Broken Hill and the shunting lines at Broken Hill?
– Discussions are proceeding between the South Australian and New South Wales Governments and the Commonwealth as to detailed arrangements for the section of the line between Broken Hill and Cockburn. As soon as I am in a position to announce final agreement on this matter I will be happy to do so. As to the rest of the line between Port Pirie and Cockburn, construction is proceeding according to programme at a very satisfactory rate.
– I ask the
Attorney-General a question. I refer to the recent Australian Broadcasting Commission television programme ‘Four Corners’ which dealt with divorce in Australia. For explanatory purposes I point out that the programme highlighted the use of hidden listening devices for gathering evidence. In view of the advances being made in the development of these devices, will the Attorney-General consider safeguarding the basic freedom of citizens by discussing with his colleagues in the States the introduction of uniform legislation to ban the use of such devices for gathering divorce evidence and in all other fields, such as at political meetings, without the knowledge of the parties concerned, except in cases where national security is involved?
– The use of listening devices in private homes to gather evidence for divorce proceedings is a matter of general concern. 1 would be prepared to consider placing an item to deal with this subject on the agenda for the next meeting of the Standing Committee of AttorneysGeneral. The honourable member referred also to the use of mechanical listening devices at political meetings. This would seem to raise different issues. After all, a political meeting is usually a public meeting. It is not uncommon at such meetings for shorthand notes and even tape recordings of the proceedings to be taken. On present information I do not know that I would be prepared to consider any law to restrict recording of what was said at political meetings.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Fourteen months ago, at the time of the Dawson by-election, the Government announced that it would provide additional funds to Queensland for development of Area 3 of the Brigalow. The Government’s statement has caused considerable confusion and chaos amongst potential contractors, landholders and others in the area. Where is the legislation for this proposal? Will there be such legislation? Why has there been this extraordinary delay in introducing legislation to give effect to something which apparently was considered by the Government to be urgent fourteen months ago?
– The Minister for National Development will answer the question.
– The original legislation dealing with the Brigalow was introduced by my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry. I am not certain of the present situation. I know that the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of National Development have been in touch with the Queensland Premier on this matter. No doubt in the fullness of time legislation will come before the House. I will treat the question as being on notice and give a reply to the honourable member at the earliest possible moment.
– I ask the Minister for Territories a question. By way of brief preface I inform the Minister that I have received copies of two circulars which were sent from a Brisbane address to natives in New Guinea, offering for sale what may be called lucky charms. One circular invites the purchase of an Egyptian luck ring and the other the purchase of what is called a Hindu lodestone. The cost of the charms is £2. Will the Minister say whether any means exist to shield the people of New Guinea from this commercial avarice?
– I have never heard of these magic charms, or whatever they are.
– You are a stud master, are you not?
– Judging by the interjection from the Leader of the Opposition, lucky charms probably have great possibilities here in Australia. Nevertheless, I shall be on my guard against such a proposition and shall see what can be done about it.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. Is it usual for mail posted at Wagga Wagga to take seven days to reach Sydney? If not, will the honourable gentleman investigate the case raised by the honourable member for West Sydney?
– I would say that it is not usual but, as I pointed out in answer to a question yesterday, there are occasions when because of human error delays do occur. This happens only in a very minor percentage of cases. It is impossible for me to make any judgment in these matters unless the envelope of the letter in question is made available to me. An envelope gives some indication of the places to which it may have been sent. In other words, it may indicate a misrouting of the letter. If envelopes can be made available in such cases, I shall make investigations to see whether I can find any cause for delay in actual delivery or processing.
– 1 ask the Treasurer whether he is aware that numerous statements have been made in recent weeks, both inside and outside the House, alleging that there are fundamental differences in relation to tariffs and tariff making policy between himself and the Minister for Trade and Industry and between the Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry. Are these statements true?
– It has been pointed out by both myself and the Minister for Trade and Industry that whatever differences of opinion there might be are resolved at meetings of the Cabinet itself and that once Cabinet makes a decision we have a responsibility to adhere to that decision or, if a matter of principle is involved, to leave the Cabinet. For that reason, we should all stick loyally to decisions that are made by the Cabinet. We do exchange differences of opinion at Cabinet meetings, of course; but once decisions are made, I am bound by them in exactly the same way as every other member of the Cabinet is.
– Is the Minister for Territories aware that members of the GurinjAboriginal tribe, who have occupied land near Wave Hill in the Northern Territory for centuries, have applied for a grant of 500 square miles of this country to develop their own cattle station? If so, has he approved their request? If not, will he take steps to do so?
– I have heard unofficially of an application by or a desire on the part of the Gurinji tribe to establish a cattle station in the area. I remind the honourable member that all pastoral land in the Northern Territory is administered under an ordinance relating to pastoral leases. I have no doubt that this application will be considered in accordance with that ordinance. Attempts have been made in the past to establish Aboriginals in the pastoral industry. My recollection is that some years ago the Hermannsburg Mission established a pastoral operation, but unfortunately it did not continue. Nevertheless I think that if Aboriginals propose to establish a cattle property that will operate satisfactorily to their way of thinking, the proposal will have to be looked at very carefully.
– My question which is addressed to the Attorney-General deals with the Patents Office. Is it true that the honourable gentleman recognises the great embarrassment caused to an applicant for registration of a patent when considerable delay occurs? What is the present position in the Patents Office? What action has been taken to solve the problems? Is it a fact that his Department has found recruitment of patent examiners to be a very real problem?
–It is a fact that there is a considerable banking up of arrears of patent applications. This is due to a number of factors. Firstly, our examining procedure is very full and effective and we would not like to relax it. Secondly, the number of applications for patents has increased considerably with the increasing industrialisation of Australia. Thirdly we have great difficulty in getting people to take on the position of examiner. We have on occasions gone to the United Kingdom and assisted people to come here to take up positions; but even with resort to such devices as that we are unable to get sufficient officers. As a result of this, towards the end of last year an informal committee, of which I was a member, considered the possibility of introducing a system of deferred examinations. That is to say, only those applications for patents that were accompanied by a specific request for immediate examination would be examined. The others would be left until a request was made and, if no request was made for five years, would pass out of the system. The Dutch have adopted some such system. However, considerable difficulties attach to it and it is at present under consideration. It may be that, not too far ahead, I will be able to make some statement as to whether we will be able to adopt the deferred system and improve it.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Why was the announcement of the shelling of North Vietnam by HMAS ‘Hobart’ made by a United States spokesman in Saigon? What control has the Australian Government over the operations of the ship with the United States Seventh Fleet?
– The Minister for the Navy will answer the question.
– As the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence have told the House on previous occasions, HMAS Hobart’ for operational purposes in South Vietnamese waters is under the command of the United States Seventh Fleet. For administrative purposes it is under the command of the Flag Officer Commanding the Australian Fleet, known as FOCAF. The Leader of the Opposition referred to the announcement of the activities of the ship. The Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence have on previous occasions given a general explanation of the role of ‘Hobart’ in Vietnamese waters. This includes the interdiction of coastal traffic and any other action consistent with allied plans to prevent infiltration from the North to the South. Hobart’ has been engaged in these activities since it went into the area on 31st March. I can see no great moment in the fact that the announcement of a particular exercise, which has been reported in the newspapers this morning, should have been made by an American spokesman or by any other spokesman. The fact is that the ship was engaged in this operation. It is there for that purposes and this has already been announced in the House by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the gaoling of the very well known and respected Yugoslav writer Mihajlo Mihajlov. Will the Prime Minister request the Australian Embassy in Yugoslavia to inform the Government of that country that Australia regards this as a serious breach of the principles of freedom which are subscribed to by all members of the United Nations?
– My attention has not previously been directed to this matter. We can count ourselves fortunate, I believe, that we live in a country where criticism is one of the democratic privileges and is freely exercised, even though this may discomfit us at time. The honourable member asked that Australia take some formal action of protest. This involves a consideration of policy. 1 will be willing to discuss the matter with the Department of External Affairs and perhaps get more information on it from our ambassador in Yugoslavia. I will take the suggestion into consideration.
– I wish to ask a question supplementary to that asked by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie. The Minister for Social Services, in his reply to that question, said that the universities were the proper bodies to investigate the incidence of poverty throughout Australia. He added that the University of Melbourne was conducting a survey of poverty at present. I ask: When the report based on this investigation is available, will the Minister act on the recommendations made by the university body conducting the survey?
– The inquiry that is being made at present is being made within a limited area. The report that has been produced is, I understand, only a partial one. Consequently, a decision has not yet been necessary. This report is not being produced by the Commonwealth and will in no way be binding on the Commonwealth. However, I can assure the honourable member that it will be read and studied by the officers of my Department and by me and that we shall see to what extent the responsibilities of the Commonwealth Government relate to any particular problems that are highlighted. As the honourable member will be aware, within our federal system, there is a sharing of social welfare responsibilities. These rest not only on the Commonwealth but also on the various State governments.
Rabbits - Poverty in Australia - Vietnam - Political Correspondents - Australian Broadcasting Commission - Income Sources of Public Men - Postal Department - Imports of Sporting Goods - Civil Aviation.
That grievances be noted.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to destroy the great illusion that it is a rabbit that comes out of the hat. It is not a rabbit; it is a sheep. In particular, it is a merino sheep - the sacred cow of Australia, as Professor A. J. Marshall, in his book ‘The Great Extermination’, describes this grass eating animal. It is not difficult to understand the genesis of the great rural phobia of our hardy pioneers, who ringbarked all the trees and killed off the native fauna so that the earth would grow more grass to feed their cattle and sheep. The importation from the United Kingdom of the field type of rabbit - the agouti - added to their worries and their troubles. Rabbits multiplied and became a great menace, desecrating the hard won pastures of the pioneers. It was not until myxomatosis was introduced after the end of the Second World War that we obtained control over the bush rabbit population. But, unfortunately the goal of rural people is complete extermination. They are now using a poison known as 1080, regardless of its effects on our native fauna. In effect, notice has been served on all herbivorous animals other than the sacred sheep and cattle: Keep off the grass’. Perhaps we ought to give grateful thanks that our dear koala bear eats gum leaves.
It is said - quite truly - that wool, mutton, beef and dairy products form the basis of our economy. Surely these need not be the basis of our only primary industries. There are other primary industries capable of development here. How long are we to accept these one-sided preferences? We have subsidies, we have bounties and we impose quota restrictions - and I instance margarine. I suppose that we can expect quota restrictions on saccharin and other sweetening compounds now that the sugar growers are getting the cane. It is time we looked at this one-sided campaign. Australia is a vast country and there is room for more people to establish primary industries than those who are presently so privileged. Unfortunately the deeply ingrained hatred of the bush rabbit has caused the grazier and the dairy farmer, through pasture protection boards, local governments and State authorities, to veto the breeding of the domestic rabbit in Australia except in a few isolated areas.
These domestic rabbits are bred overseas for the broiler trade and when dressed the carcasses weigh out at about 12 lb. Breeding stock is imported and is extremely costly, as much as $400 to $600 being paid for one breeding buck. In an article in the London ‘Financial Times’ about seven years ago it was stated that there were then 4,000 broiler growers in the United Kingdom whose output in eighteen months would total about twenty million bodies and, in five years, fifty million bodies for the home market. Notwithstanding this production, last year England imported a considerable quantity of rabbit meat. She imported nearly half a million crates of bush rabbits from Australia at 2s a lb, about 70,000 crates of domestic rabbits from Poland at 3s. 3d a lb and more than a quarter of a million crates from China at 2s lOd a lb. Unfortunately the leading exporter in Australia considers that Australian exports of bush rabbits to England this year will be down to about 50,000 crates. This is very serious. Over the past eighteen months eight rabbit exporting firms have closed down.
It is time that we made a logical approach to this subject and rationally viewed the situation with some objectivity. Let us examine the objections graziers make to the establishment of this industry in Australia. Their first complaint is on the score of security, but the people who want to establish this business are prepared to accept any security conditions. They will provide thick concrete floors and thick outer walls. They will even provide moats around the compounds. They will provide security up to Stalag capacity. In any event, the rabbits are kept securely caged with the security complex. The second objection the graziers voice is the danger that the immunity of the domestic rabbit to myxomatosis will be spread by mosquitoes to the bush rabbit population. The answer to this suggestion is that the people who want to establish this industry will screenproof their premises as effectively as is required. In any case the bush rabbit is now virtually immune to myxomatosis and 1080 is being widely used.
We also tend to forget that there is a large community of pet domestic rabbits in the suburban areas of our capital cities. Security there is very lax. Zoos, sanctuaries and animal aid centres also have their share of rabbits, but there has been no great impact on the bush population. The dom stic rabbit in Australia, which would be generally used, is white. It does not dig burrows but merely scrapes a small depression in the ground to avoid the sunlight and to keep cool. The white rabbit has no natural camouflage in Australia and, when loose, is easy prey to dogs, foxes and eagles.
I would ask honourable members to examine these pelts which I have brought with me, and gain some idea of their beauty. They are all in their natural colours. These have not been taken from the largest carcases. They are from rabbits of normal size but still they measure about 24 in by 15 in.
There is a constituent of mine who, as an unemployed youth in the depression of the 1930s, acquired an old bicycle, a .22 calibre rifle and a couple of ferrets, and from those humble beginnings he built up the largest rabbit processing and exporting industry in Australia.
– But there are plenty of bunnies in your electorate.
– That is what this man achieved from those very small beginnings. Today as a millionaire - which our friend from Scullin (Mr Peters) will never be because he has not the brains - he is prepared to spend unlimited amounts of money to establish the domestic rabbit industry in Australia. Surely it is time that rural interests displayed some common sense and withdrew their illogical opposition- so that the State Ministers, through the pastures protection boards or other authorities, could issue licences and specify safeguards and other conditions so that this industry could become established. Until common sense prevails, Australia will be left behind without an industry which, to judge from what has happened in countries such as China, Poland, the United Kingdom and others, could undoubtedly become one of our major primary industries.
I can only say with all my heart that the one-sided practice of affording privilege to certain primary industries in this country requires close examination by those people who are in a position to change it. I know that this is a State matter, but I am addressing myself to all rural interests and I ask them for the Lord’s sake to come out from behind this stupid facade and discard the phobia they have acquired about rabbits because of what has happened in the past with bush rabbits. They should look at this matter rationally and correctly so that Australia may benefit from the export earnings it can gain from this industry.
– Deputy Speaker, there is an old saying of Shakespeare’s that when a man marries and has children he gives hostages to fortune, but according to a report in today’s ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, emanating, I assume, from the official Caucus leak of the Liberal Party, the honourable member for Sturt in this House - the newspaper attributes the remark to ‘Mr K. C. Wilson (Lib., S.A.)’ but I presume it means Mr Ian Wilson, one of the Liberal Party’s younger and recent recruits - has said:
Couples who raised a family immediately after marriage found themselves sliding socially and economically behind those who waited.
The Federal Government would have to give some help to young couples who raised families from the outset of their marriage.
This is precisely the situation throughout Australia today and it applies with particular force in my own constituency. The choice facing young couples is an obvious one and it is the reason, I would say, for the phenomenally high rate of alleged home ownership in Australia today. We are told that some 80% of Australian people either own or are attempting to own their own homes. Unfortunately those who, in attempting to own their homes, have assumed a lifetime burden are in the overwhelming majority. On many occasions in this House I have spoken of poverty and hardship in my own constituency. On this occasion I want to quote from the ‘South Coast Times’, a bi-weekly newspaper of very high repute published in my constituency. As a matter of fact it is to be the recipient next week of a special award from the Rural Bank of New South Wales for its excellence as a provincial newspaper. The heading of this edition of Thursday 13th April says: Poverty: 10,000 affected!
The article refers to a comment by the St Vincent de Paul Society and mentions another welfare organisation which fed 830 Wollongong people in the first ninety days of 1967. The article states:
Welfare workers claimed yesterday that thousands of children and adults were walking a thin edge between eating and starving. ‘The Times’-
That is, the ‘South Coast Times’- was investigating a national woman’s magazine report that Wollongong was a city without poor. . . .
The Smith Family had registered 430 additional poverty cases since June 30.
St Vincent de Paul Society members were concerned at their ability to keep pace with the demand from destitute families and individuals.
Wollongong headmasters had found children starving themselves to keep food for their younger brothers and sisters.
This newspaper found that some social welfare authorities were saying that 10,000 Wollongong people would be without bread at one time or another during 1967. The St Vincent de Paul Society has 200 members at work in the Wollongong area, 70% of whom are working on poverty cases every week. In the last year it has helped 599 families and 621 itinerants, and has aided a total of 3,083 adults and children. The following commentwas made by the secretary of the Wollongong Smith Family:
This week we found children sleeping under an old overcoat on an armchair. There was no bed and no blanket.
A headmaster from a well known school called us because the children of one family looked hungry. They were!
The older children of the family were going without so that their young brothers and sisters could eat the little food there was available.
Since June 30 The Smiths have registered 460 new-
That is, additional - families needing help. . . .
In January the Family had 685 cases; in February 909 and in March 711.
So it goes on. On 17th April the same newspaper, again on the front page, referred to high rents in an article headed High Rents, AIS Policy Assailed’. The
AIS, of course, operates the steelworks. The article states:
High rents are a primary cause of widespread poverty in Wollongong, according to welfare workers.
They have told ‘The Times’ they also want a drastic change in the recruiting and payment policy at Port Kembla Steelworks.
The recruiting policy is simple. A mass of migrants come in, and the company has the right to select from them. It is quite indifferent to labour turnover. The only unskilled people who are prepared to work at the steelworks at Port Kembla today are those who cannot get employment elsewhere. For that reason they leave their employment at the first opportunity they have to get a better job which pays something near an adequate wage. This is bad for the men and equally bad for the industry because, unless and until the company realises that unless it pays decent wages and gives some stability and some sense of satisfaction to the men it employs, it can expect this constant turnover of good labour. The article continues:
They are pleading, too, for greater liaison between Commonwealth and State Government socio-welfare departments so that if one cannot help the needy it will direct them to another department that can . . .
Social and welfare workers estimate six people in every 100- or almost 10,000 of the 164,000 people of Wollongong - will feel hunger and poverty this year . . .
The ‘Times’ people have shown that Housing Commission policy indirectly creates poverty. It should be changed so that parents with large families will wait the shorter time for homes.
The newspaper suggests that parents with larger families should not have to wait for homes when people with smaller families receive homes sooner. I do not know the validity of that comment. The article continues:
Mrs Pat Gunton, secretary of Wollongong Smith Family, says dear housing is the greatest single cause of poverty in this district.
And poverty here means children going hungry to school, parents living on tea and dry bread, or families unable to afford the cost of a blanket or a bed.
The Smith Family is helping families who have not eaten meat for six weeks.
For some of those who turn to it, poverty is a temporary set back.
For others - especially those forced to pay the greater part of their income in rent - the state will be perpetual . . .
Few also realise that the steelworks insists on a worker having a permanent address before he is placed on the payroll. This ruling forces some family men to sign leases to pay rents up to $20 and $22 a week.
Some never recover from this first financial crisis,’ Mrs Gunton said. ‘This is when cheap housing would save them.’
If only we could get them a home at say $6 a week before they mortgage themselves for ever in huge rents.’
I intend to place the contents of these two issues of the ‘South Coast Times’ before both the Federal Minister for Social Services and the State Minister for Social Welfare. It is not a matter from which I or anyone else in Wollongong wish to make political capital. Something must be done; the situation must be faced.
I believe that both of those Ministers are humane men. It is up to the respective governments, both Federal and State, to exercise compassion and do something. The Department of Social Services at Wollongong has a magnificent staff of charitably minded people, to whom I pay a tribute. I pay an equal tribute to the Smith Family, the St Vincent de Paul Society, the Salvation Army and all the other groups of people who are doing their best to ameliorate conditions of extreme poverty within my area. At present we have major industrial trouble, which is due to one thing and one thing alone - the inadequacy of the wages being paid to unskilled workers in heavy industry. They are seeking to obtain a minimum bonus of $6. At present, their average take home pay is £16 10s a week compared with the national average of £27 10s. The men have nothing left to do but to fight. The alternative to fighting and getting a decent deal for themselves is to face a degree of starvation.
In this area there are 5,800 unemployed women. The only way in which we can relieve this problem is by providing an increased cash flow. That must come from wages. If proper wages are paid to unskilled steelworkers, the increased flow of money to business and commerce will create extra jobs in both shops and factories.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I would like to discuss a matter which causes me great concern and which seems to me to be a waste of effort and energy. Every week we can pick up a newspaper and read that members of some religious organisation, peace organisation or student body are either demonstrating against the Government for peace in Vietnam, holding protest meetings against the Government because there is no peace in Vietnam, or making profound statements as to how much they desire peace in that unhappy country. They try to tell the Government and our allies how to negotiate for peace.
At the risk of repeating facts which have appeared time and time again in the Press throughout Australia, I say that our troops in Vietnam, very commendably, are doing a job which we think is necessary and is of vital importance for our future security. They are doing it well. Not one of us, regardless of political or religious creed, wants to see our troops embroiled in a war, especially a war such as this one. It was only after careful consideration of all the available facts which have a bearing on our present existence and our future that our troops were committed to this theatre of war. I ask whether there is one amongst us who would not dearly love to see peace come to Vietnam and our troops come back home. lt has been proved that the principle of assisting our neighbours to halt aggression within their countries is a just and humane one. We helped the British to clean out the subversive elements in Malaya so that the Malayans could develop their country in peace and freedom. This they have done, and today Malaya is a prosperous and free country. We helped the allies halt Communist aggression in Korea and, again, South Korea is now a free and prospering country. I firmly believe that this peace, freedom and prosperity will come to South Vietnam, and when it does Australia can be justly proud that we actively helped to achieve this desirable state of affairs for our neighbours of South Vietnam.
These people who continually harp on the subject of negotiating for peace, without knowing the details or the implications of the efforts being made to achieve it, would do well to remember that we all desire peace, especially the people in South Vietnam, but not at the price Hanoi wishes us to pay. Surely these people could not have forgotten the efforts that were made by the Allies to get the North Korean Communist leaders to the conference table and the farce that these same leaders made of the conferences at Panmunjom before a peace was declared and South Korea was free. Those same tactics are being employed by Hanoi at the present time. They reject all sincere suggestions put forward by the executives of different countries, the United Nations and various other peace delegations, and demand what amounts to an unconditional surrender.
So, Sir, I say to these peace demonstrators, these peace committees and these armchair tacticians and criticis who sound off against the Government because there is no peace in Vietnam: ‘Don’t tell us - tell them’. We do not have to be harassed, bullied or persuaded to sit at a peace conference table, and I can state quite confidently that there would be no people keener than ourselves to cease hostilities on a reasonable basis and help to work out a just and enduring peace for the people of Vietnam, North and South. Let these critics direct their efforts, energies and writings to the government in Hanoi where they may do some good. We are ready to negotiate at any time on reasonable terms.
– 1 listened very attentively to the previous speaker. I think he said that there was prosperity in South Korea. I have been in South Korea twice in the last six years, and during that time I had great opportunity to study the economic situation there.
– I said it was a prospering country.
– Well, I was there two years ago. No doubt the Americans are doing a marvellous job in trying to assist South Koreans; 1 do not doubt that for one moment. However, let me give an illustration of how they prosper. When I was speaking to the Prime Minister, together with other members who were there with me at the time, I ascertained that about 12% of that country’s 29 million people are unemployed, and they have a budget equivalent to $A260m to cater for that population of 29 million people. In my opinion, anyone who says that the country is prosperous has never been there and never seen the facts for himself. I believe in what is happening in that place. I know that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, have been there, 1 think twice in the past year or two, and I think you would surely back up what I am saying about the lack of prosperity there.
– It would be fairer to relate it back to 1952, when the country was devastated.
– Yes. I know they have done a remarkable job, and I have a great amount of respect for the Korean people. I think that if they were given throughout the land the educational facilities and opportunities that we have in Australia they would be a remarkably good people. I would say that if the opportunities are offering in the next decade or two the South Korean people could easily come up amongst other Asian manufacturing nations, particularly Japan.
One thing 1 want to mention this morning concerns a question that I asked yesterday. I am not trying to be spiteful or anything like that, but I just want to refute a remark made by interjection while I was asking a question of the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) yesterday. It was in regard to the question of Michael Willesee and Don Whitington. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon), interjected and said: ‘Are they ashamed of the fact that he is a member of the Labor Party?’ The ‘he’, of course, was Michael Willesee. I should like to say that Michael Willesee, a journalist as we know, is a young man of twenty-four years. He has never been a member of any political party, and as far as I know it is not his intention ever to join a political party. No doubt the interjection was made to try to bolster the answer of the Prime Minister to the effect that the television programme called, I think, This Day Tonight’, was made for the purpose of trying to embarrass the Prime Minister and the Government because Michael Willesee was a member of the Labor Party.
– No. I think the honourable member has missed the point.
– That is the interjection recorded in Hansard. It was no doubt meant to imply that Michael Willesee was a member, as stated by the Treasurer. When a man makes an interjection like that it is a factual statement, as though he knows for a positive fact that Michael Willesee is a member of the Labor Party. In fact that is not so. Michael Willesee has never been a member of any political party. It is not my intention to repeat the remarks made in the adjournment debate in another place last night. However, I would like to say that there seems to be a growing tendency on the part of some Senator McCarthy-minded people in Australia to try to blackguard the names and characters of various other people whose political views do not coincide with their own - a sort of guilt by association process. In all my years in this place while Senator McCallum was a member of the Senate I did not once mention the fact that his daughter was a leading Communist in New South Wales and that she had been a candidate for the Communist Party on numerous occasions. I did not mention that as I did not think Senator McCallum was a Communist just because his daughter was a Communist. What a ridiculous assumption that would have been to make. That is the reason why neither I nor my colleagues ever mentioned that fact. Although this is purely and simply a hypothetical point, I wonder what would have happened if the position had been reversed and it had been a Labor senator whose daughter was a candidate for the Communist Party in New South Wales. I wonder what comments would have been made by some of the members on the Government side.
Let me also quote some other instances. We had a very great Labor Premier in New South Wales by the name of Jim McGirr, a very popular man and one of the best Labor Premiers ever to grace the State of New South Wales. Everyone knows that Jim McGirr’s family was comprised of many Liberal members. How farcical it would be for people to think that just because Jim McGirr’s brothers happened to be anti-Labour he also would be antiLabor. I recall that years ago one of the best known Communists in Australia, Rupert Lockwood, was a journalist on the Sunday ‘Sun* in Sydney and in charge of the section of the newspaper known as Fact’. Everyone knew that Rupert Lockwood, a brilliant journalist, was a Communist, but does it mean that that newspaper was a Communist newspaper because it employed a Communist?
– Is the honourable member trying to show that this Australian Broadcasting Commission broadcast was an objective study?
– No, I am just referring to this question of guilt by association.
– It is news to me that it is guilt to be associated with the Labor Party, if that is what the honourable member is trying to make out.
– I am not trying to do that. The implication in the Prime Minister’s answer was that because Michael Willesee’s father was a Labor senator naturally he would be politically biased. If the Minister for Shipping and Transport would like to read the debate that took place-
– The honourable member has got the whole thing wrong. The only suggestion by the Prime Minister was that this coloured the activities of the ABC.
– Mr Speaker, if the Minister who is interjecting would read the remarks made in the debate in the Senate last night - I do not know whether he has taken the trouble to do so - he would see that Michael Willesee, in commentaries that he has made, has attacked the Labor Party more often than he has attacked the Liberal Party. For example, he does not agree with conscription, but he does agree that Australia should be involved in Vietnam. Does that imply that he has the same views as his father on this subject? Of course it does not. Not for one moment. The implication made by the Prime Minister in his answer was that because Senator Willesee is a Labor man his son must naturally be Labor minded. What a ridiculous point of view. Only McCarthy-minded people would support that view.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! I suggest to honourable members who are interjecting that the honourable member for Watson be allowed to make his speech on his own.
– This might get under the skin of a few people but it is my view. Nobody is more opposed to the ideologies of Communism and Fascism than I am. But I do not believe in labelling people just because they happen to associate with, be friendly with or be related to a Communist, a Liberal, or a Labor supporter. If we reach that stage in Australia we will have McCarthyism. Twenty million or more people were killed in World War II in the fight against philosophies such as Fascism and McCarthyism. We never want to see them in Australia. All honourable members in this House have friends that they made while at school. They may not have seen them for twenty years and in that interval some might have become members of the Communist Party. Now, if honourable members are seen talking to them, in the eyes of some people they are Communists also. What a ridiculous situation. I protest against this McCarthyism being introduced in Australia. Irrespective of a person’s political views, he should have the right to express them even though people may disagree with them.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I will not delay the House for very long-
-Order! There is one point I want to make clear. If the Minister speaks now, the next call will go to the Opposition, irrespective of how long the Minister speaks.
– That is fair enough. I will not detain the House long. I want to try to get this matter back into proper perspective. The honourable member for Watson (Mr Cope), for whose views I have high regard, has entirely distorted the substance of the approach by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) to this problem. The Prime Minister was trying to show that the Australian Broadcasting Commission had made a most unfortunate choice. If its intention was to present an uncoloured and objective programme it would hardly have adopted the course of asking two people whose views are known to be politically biased to express views about a commentary that was clearly politically biased. It would hardly have chosen a former Labor member of this Parliament and the son of a Labor senator.
Whatever the views of the son of the Labor senator, it hardly would appear to the public that this telecast was an objective and uncoloured commentary. There is no reflection on Mr Willesee in this whatever. There is a reflection on the judgment of the officer of the ABC who was in charge of this programme. I suggest it is likely that if the honourable member for Watson were arranging a programme which he hoped would appeal to the public as an objective discussion on this topic, having chosen the former honourable member for Eden-Monaro - a known Labor sympathiser - as one member of the panel, he would have selected as the other somebody who was known to be a Liberal sympathiser. This would have presented a balanced view. The Prime Minister was trying to indicate that, to an impartial viewer, there was a completely unbalanced discussion of what was, in the first instance, a distorted and biased report. This was a reflection on the judgment of the programme arranger who organised this programme for the ABC. I do not see what the honourable member for Watson can get heated about. He suggested that freedom of speech in Australia was being jeopardised. The ABC was set up to protect freedom of speech by ensuring that people would be able to present their views. Its mission is supposed to be to see that all points of view are fairly presented. I suggest to the honourable member for Watson that if he looks at the matter in a dispassionate way he will see that this programme could hardly be regarded by the general viewing public as an attempt at objectivity, in any sense of the word.
– I wish first to refer to the matter that has been brought before the House by the honourable member for Watson (Mr Cope). I read in ‘Hansard’ that when the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) was referring to Mr Michael Willesee, the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) interjected:
Are they ashamed of the fact that he is a member of the Labor Party?
– A very good question.
– It is not only a question. It is a statement. This was a definite statement by the Treasurer that Michael Willesee is a member of the Labor Party. The Treasurer must have had some evidence of that. After that interjection the Prime Minister went on to say:
I should not imagine that at all . . .
That means that he does not imagine that we are ashamed, or that anybody is ashamed, of the fact that Michael Willesee is a member of the Labor Party. The Prime Minister continued and said: but it does, I think, help to sustain the general comment I made yesterday . . .
That is what the Prime Minister said. The Treasurer has not the courage and decency to come into this House and say: ‘I had no evidence that Michael Willesee was a member of any political party whatsoever. I deliberately made a statement that was untrue in order to buttress, for the moment, of position of the Prime Minister’.
I did not rise primarily to discuss this matter. I rose to refer to answers to questions given to me by a succession of Treasurers down through the years. Since 1949 I have asked every Treasurer whether he would use his powers to see that the income, and sources of income, of all parliamentarians, councillors, and public men generally, are made public in the annual report of the Commissioner of Taxation. Generally, the answer has been no.
– We asked for that in Tasmania once, but by gee, the Labor Party did not want it.
– Evidently my friend opposite is with me. He asked for this once in Tasmania and did not get it. I am glad that I have at least one honourable member on the other side of the House supporting me in this proposition. The point is that the other day, in reply to my question, the Treasurer said, in effect: ‘I do not think there is any necessity for this. After all, the members of this House are, like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion’. I am not accusing honourable members of anything at all. All I am pointing out is that in Norway, in many of the States of the United States of America, and in other countries, the income and sources of income of public men are made public in the reports of the taxation commissioners.
To a big extent this protects the people of those countries from malpractices by men in public positions. It also protects the men in public positions from unfounded accusations of malpractices. Nobody can say that mapractices do not occur. Only the other day the Warringah Shire Council in New South Wales was suspended, not because one councillor was guilty of corruption but because it was alleged eight councillors had put their heads together in order to solicit bribes. So the function of democratic administration in that district has been destroyed. Because of the action of these councillors an administrator has been appointed to control the affairs of the Shire.
– The honourable member does not know what he is talking about.
– Only the other day the honourable member for Mitchell said that the planning authority in New South Wales had been responsible for corruption and malpractice in the public life of the country.
– I rise to order. The honourable member for Mitchell is making further statements by way of interjection. They should be recorded in Hansard.
-Order! There is no substance in the point raised by the honourable member for Mackellar.
– If I throw a stick or a stone into a pack of dogs I can always tell which one I have hit by its yelping. The fact that these malpractices have involved not just one council in New South Wales but a number over the years and the fact that they involve not just one public figure but a number show that they are widespread. Is it not fair to say that the number of councillors and councils and other public persons and bodies which have escaped detection is greater than the number which have been discovered, and that malpractices are more extensive than would appear to be the case on the surface? Of course I am right and the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Pearsall) agrees with me.
– I do not believe in using parliamentary privilege to slander people.
– I am not slandering anyone. All I am interested in is protecting people in public life from the slanderous claim that they are in public office only to get as much out of it as they can by whatever means they can. To support their claims the people who make them point to the man who has entered Parliament or been elected to a council without a penny in his pocket but who, within a short space of time, is an affluent member of the community. Honourable members opposite, despite any pretences they may make, know that the statements I have made are correct. The circumstances surrounding the Warringah Shire Council prove that my statements are correct. I do not say that Australians are more liable to do these things than are people from other countries; perhaps we are less liable. Perhaps we are a purer race than the people of other countries. Perhaps we are the only people who are always able to resist temptation. All the same, it is desirable that temptation should be kept out of our way. I speak for myself as well as for the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). I make no accusation against anybody. All I have said is that the history of other nations, such as America, Britain, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, has proved that the publication of the incomes and the sources of income of public men is a means of protecting the community that those people are supposed to serve. It is also a means of protecting the reputations of men in public life. For these reasons what I have suggested should be done and it would be a weapon to improve democratic government in this country.
– Last week in the debate on the adjournment of the House I said that I wished to refer to anomalies within the Postmaster-General’s Department. I now take the opportunity to do so. Over a period of time I have heard many honourable members say that the issues involving the Postmaster-General’s Department are not really important. That may be so, particularly for those who are fortunate enough to receive first class services from the Department. We have heard a lot in this place about the principle of one vote one value; in other words, that we all should be equal. I would accept this principle if all Australians had equal rights, equal privileges and equal amenities, but unfortunately they do not. Those who live in rural areas must contend with higher freight rates, higher living costs generally, a smaller choice of essential goods than their city brothers and certainly they are not fortunate enough to have the amenities that are enjoyed by some of their city friends.
I wish to refer particularly this morning to the matter of poor telephone services. 1 am not so much concerned with those who live in the larger country centres and the capital cities and who have a first class service as I am with those who must pay high installation costs yet still do not get a full departmental service. I wish to direct the attention of the House to a report which appeared in the Melbourne ‘Sun* on 7th April. Under the headine ‘Automatic exchange plan is too costly’ the report read:
Thirty-four subscribers to the proposed Cope Cope rural automatic exchange have voted unanimously not to proceed with the idea under present conditions.
The report then relates what the subscribers intend to do. Since then I have received official notification from the subscribers of the reasons for their action and they have asked me to place those reasons before the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme). This I have done.
This is a bad situation. There are many areas scattered throughout my electorate which do not have satisfactory telephone services. No doubt many honourable members representing rural areas are in a similar position. Generally the criticism is levelled at the delay in upgrading services and in installing automatic facilities. In some cases subscribers who are fortunate enough to live within a reasonable distance of a new exchange receive a full departmental service while others who live perhaps a few miles further from the exchange find that they are responsible for the erection and maintenance of anything up to seven and eight miles of line. Recently I asked a question, on notice, of the PostmasterGeneral. He was good enough to supply me with certain figures showing the number of subscribers who are at present enjoying a fully automatic service and the number who are not. I do not wish to give the figures for all States. The interesting part about it is that in the metropolitan areas there are no subscribers who are not receiving automatic services whereas in the country areas a large number of subscribers do not enjoy this amenity. I shall quote the Victorian figures for the purpose of my case. In the Victorian metropolitan area, 438,735 subscribers enjoy a fully automatic service whereas in the country only 138,501 do so. In the metropolitan areas, there are no subscribers on a non-automatic service whereas in the country 83,738 subscribers suffer this disadvantage. So it will be seen that in the country areas many telephones still require conversion. A number of them will eventually be connected to an automatic service. Some of them will be connected free of cost. But I am concerned about the great number of subscribers 1 mentioned earlier who will be required to contribute to the establishment of new lines. Some of them will have to pay plenty for this service. I have received letters from various quarters about this matter. One, of which the Postmaster-General has a copy, indicates that the subscriber in question is paying approximately $500 for conversion.
In the Wimmera electorate four, if not five, centres are currently complaining about the cost of the upgrading of their services. These include Cope Cope, Dunmunble Laen, and the newly developing area of north Kaniva from where I have received many complaints relating to cost because of the distance involved. In the north Kaniva area many thousands of acres of land are being brought into production. Although the State Government has assisted in many ways with such things as the reticulation of electricity and the construction of roads, the Postmaster-General’s Department insists that it must adhere rigidly to its policy of allocating only so much for each applicant for a telephone. This is one anomaly that should be straightened out. I fully appreoiate that the Postmaster-General’s Department is involved in huge capital expenditure totalling approximately S200m and that there is little or no chance of this huge sum ever being repaid. No doubt, as time progresses, that sum will be greatly increased. I suggest to the Postmaster-General that he should do everything in his power to see that it is increased for, if expenditure is not increased in keeping with the number of areas yet to be converted, it is only natural that very many years will elapse before those now needing this amenity can hope to enjoy the same privileges as other subscribers.
I said a moment ago that I had received four or five complaints about the upgrading of services. If I were to go through some of my files relating to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and were to take out the complaints I have had in the last twelve months, I could take up a considerable amount of my time this morning just naming the areas and individuals who have been complaining. I have received letters from various organisations, from local authorities, from chambers of commerce, from progress committees, from the Victorian Agricultural Society, from the Wimmera Agricultural Society and literally dozens of private individuals, but we do not seem to be making a great deal of progress.
Where do we go from here? As I have said, the only way that I can see of relieving the situation is for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, when allocating its finance at the beginning of each year, to increase the amounts to be expended in some of these areas. Recently I referred to the lack of television services in some of the outlying areas. Victoria is only small in comparison with some of the other States. When I have so many complaints in the Wimmera electorate, Heaven knows how many complaints are likely to be made in other areas. Only this morning I received a complaint about a line that had broken down.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– This morning at question time I endeavoured to quote a letter which I had received from a business man in Sydney who is very perturbed at the delay in receiving parcels from Wagga Wagga. He points out that it took seven days for two separate parcels to come from Wagga Wagga to his address and he asked if I could bring the matter up in this House in some way. Naturally I was only too eager to put the letter before the House this morning, but Mr Speaker prevented me from doing so. I realise that he must be guided by the Standing Orders and that we must obey his direction. I point out that the time available to us for asking questions is very limited, but I note that when Ministers get up to reply they never know when to sit down. They often take from ten to fifteen minutes doing everything but answering the question. Thanks to whoever introduced Grievance Day, I now have an opportunity to put before the House the letter that I received from this gentleman. He is Mr P. E. Morgan, of Rawson Place, Sydney. The letter refers to delays in receiving registered mail. This gentleman said:
On 13th March I received a registered parcel posted Wagga Wagga on 8th March. Then I received another one posted on 6th April on 13th April. This parcel contained stop watches for repairs and were required in Wagga on 12th, just a delay of one week in these two instances. These delays are causing me some concern and could cause me loss of business.
I would appreciate it if you would raise this matter at question time in the House as these delays are of a serious nature. The parcel posted 6th April marked ‘Special Delivery’. Am enclosing wrapper.
He sent me the wrapper marked ‘Special Delivery’. I emphasise that it took seven days to come from Wagga Wagga to his establishment.
– You could walk it in that time.
– I do not know about that. These watches came from a country area. A lot of racing takes place in the country. Perhaps these stop watches were wanted for a race meeting, or something like that. It could be that one of the owners of a stop watch lives 100 miles from Wagga Wagga. I take this opportunity to bring the matter before the House and I feel sure that the man who asked me to do this will be pleased that I have ventilated his troubles. I hope the Postmaster-General will investigate the matter to ascertain the reason for the delays about which I complain.
I have the honour to represent the electorate of West Sydney. Nobody knows better than Mr Speaker does that I am visited by many constituents. When he goes to his room in the parliamentary offices in Sydney he passes my door. Two or three times a week he will see there not three or four people but possibly ten people waiting to see me. The main complaint I receive is the delay in the delivery of mail. Pensioners are embarrassed if they do not receive the letters in which their cheques are sent. Many of them pay for their rooms or beds in hostels each night and if their mail is delayed for three or four days we can imagine how they are treated. Perhaps this does not apply so much to women.
A vacancy is not kept in the hostel for the pensioners who cannot pay because they have not received their cheques, and they come to my office. All I can do is to telephone an officer in the Department of Social Services. Very often this is a useless task, because the pensioner who comes to me has already been to the Department. When I telephone the Department naturally I cannot be given the information offhand.
I sometimes sympathise with the officers, because I am asking for information they may already have given to the pensioner. They may have told the pensioner that the cheque has been posted to him and that it will arrive. However, it may not arrive for another two or three days. There should be some way of ensuring that these letters arrive at the proper time. Perhaps the Department should dispatch the letters a day earlier than they have been. This would ensure that these unfortunate people who must wait two weeks for each cheque, or one week if they receive unemployment benefit, will not be embarrassed by delay in the delivery of mail. 1 have taken this opportunity to state this case, because I think it is a deserving one. I hope that the Postmaster-General will investigate complaints of delays and that he will investigate the matter raised in the letter I have read to the House. I will supply him with all the information I have received and he will then have an opportunity to find out how the delay was caused. I hope that the Department of Social Services will take some action to ensure that pension cheques are delivered promptly. I do not blame the officers of the Department. They have many thousands of people to look after. If a pensioner goes to the Department with his complaint, the officer behind the counter will undoubtedly say: ‘The letter went out yesterday, but I will report your complaint’. We cannot say that the officers are untruthful, because the letters are apparently being posted, but it seems to take three or four days for a letter to go from the Department to the recipient. I hope that this delay will be avoided in future.
The method of paying social services in my electorate should be improved. The system at the Glebe Post Office is a disgrace. About 22,000 people reside in this area and they are served by only one post office. It does not matter whether we travel north, south, east or west, there is not another post office within a reasonable distance. The Glebe Post Office has been inadequate, to my knowledge, for at least fifteen years. Something should be done to improve the method of paying pensions. Many young women come with their babies in prams, but they do not receive their pension at the post office. They must go into another street and climb ten stone steps to an old disused barn to get their pension. They must leave their babies in prams outside in the street or entrust them to someone else. This is a standing disgrace and I trust that a remedy will be found in the very near future.
– I would have preferred to make an appeal to the Government to reverse a previous decision. However, my efforts since 31st March 1965 have not been successful and I am afraid that now I feel more like telling the Government what I think of it than making an appeal. I refer to the importation of specialised goods required for certain sports. In this instance, the sport is pole vaulting. A pole vaulter today using the old bamboo or duralumin pole does not stand a chance; he must have the modern fibreglass pole. The Vice President of the Victorian Amateur Athletic Association, Mr Wilson, has said:
The standard of pole vaulting is very poor; only one of our vaulters is anywhere near world standard. We have not been able to keep pace with the Americans, the main reason being the high cost of fibreglass poles. Our younger vaulters are being particularly hard hit; they are being denied the opportunity to use the right equipment.
The price of fibreglass poles in America is very high. When they are imported into Australia, customs duties and sales tax are added. This places anyone who wants to become expert in pole vaulting at a considerable disadvantage.
The Monash University first asked me to take up this matter. I did so, but I did not get anywhere. I wrote letters in March, April, May, July and August of 1965 and February and April of 1966. In July 1966 I wrote to the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and two months later I received a reply. The Prime Minister said:
If fibreglass pole vaults were to be admitted free of duty it would be difficult if not impossible, on the grounds of equity, not to grant the same treatment to what you describe as ordinary runofthemill athletic equipment-
I had said that I was not asking for a remission of customs duty on the ordinary run-of-the-mill athletic equipment. We make very good track shoes in Australia. Anyone who wants to buy a pair of track shoes from America must pay duty. But no firm in Australia makes fibreglass poles. Without fibreglass poles our young vaulters do not have a chance to become expert. They pay for all their own athletic equipment as it is. They provide the best publicity Australia has ever had. No government could have bought the publicity that flowed from the Olympic Games for £100m, let alone for $100m. Now when we ask for serious consideration to be given to a small matter like the remission of customs duty on equipment that is absolutely necessary and cannot be made in Australia, our request is refused. Remission of this duty would not create any difficulties; it could be done under by-law. The Prime Minister said in his letter:
I am sure you will also appreciate the very real administrative problems that would arise if exemptions from customs duty were to be decided on the basis of judgments as to the quality and suitability of locally made compared with imported sporting goods.
This comes from a Prime Minister who is a skin diver. Will he go down underneath the water in inferior equipment? He knows the difference between inferior and proper equipment.
Except in backyard practice, perhaps, no pole vaulter today can engage in his sport without a fibreglass pole. I have plenty of evidence here to show that. Finally, in November 1966, I received a letter from the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson). He had become very kind in the meantime. I am sorry that I find it necessary to criticise him, for he is a cobber of mine from the old Australian Imperial Force days in Malaya. However, I cannot understand why he lets departmental red tape so bind him down as to induce him to send to me the answer that I received. He wrote: 1 am not prepared to use the by-law provisions of the customs tariff to waive duty on sporting equipment for use by private individuals.
Let us not forget that these poles cost $80. This is the choice passage in the Minister’s letter:
However, fibre glass pole vaults may be admitted at a concessional duty rate of 15% ad valorem, plus 12i% sales tax if they are the produce of a specified less developed country.
I was very kindly supplied with a list of these specified less developed countries. I shall read a few of their names. Do honourable members think any of these countries is likely to be able to produce this sophisticated form of athletic equipment: the British Solomon Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroons, Cayman Islands, Mali, Malta, Mauretania, Mauritius, Mexico, Montserrat, Pitcairn Island and the Maldive Islands? What sort of consideration has been given to this matter? I consider the decision to be unjust, petty and downright stupid. I nearly used another word, Mr Speaker. I do not know why, but for some reason amateur athletes do not seem to be supported in this country as they should be supported.
– Why did not the honourable member bring back some poles from Hong Kong when he returned from his trip?
– The honourable member ought to talk sense. They cannot be manufactured in Hong Kong either. To be an athlete of any standing, one has to spend a lot of time training. This means a high degree of self discipline. Amateur athletes are among the finest sections of the young generation today. As I have said, they gain for us all the publicity that comes from their participation in the Olympic Games. Our athletes are still gaining this publicity for Australia, and the advantages of it are derived free by governments. This Government makes an annual grant of $366,000 to the National Fitness Council. I do not criticise the Council and I would not argue that it was not a good show. But I hold that amateur athletics - I refer not just to track running but to all amateur athletics, whatever form the sport takes - is the finest form of national fitness, as is demonstrated by the standards set by our amateur athletes. I believe that the Government should help them very much more than it does. At present we cannot even have money donated to meet Olympic Games expenses allowed as a tax deduction. We receive nothing at all except the grants that the Government makes - I acknowledge them freely - to the Australian Olympic Federation to help meet the expenses every four years of an Olympic team or a Commonwealth Games team. But even those grants are small compared to the subsidy, matching dollar for dollar contributed funds, given by the State governments for national fitness. Yet, when it comes to the minor question of admitting duty free fibreglass poles, which are not manufactured in Australia because the market for them is too small, the Government will not even give the matter reasonable consideration. As a result pole vaulters have to pay for imported poles the high price that I have mentioned. As I have said, the decision of the Minister for Customs and Excise is unjust, petty and inexplicable. I cannot understand it. I hope that some common sense will enter the head of someone in the Department of Customs and Excise, even if it does not enter the Minister’s head.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to bring to the notice of the House a number of matters related to Trans-Australia Airlines which 1 believe indicate serious laxity in the organisation of this important airline. I raise these matters in the hope that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) will take them up with the management of the airline with the object of having the faults corrected and its organisation tightened up so that passengers will not be subjected to inconvenience of the kind that I am about to describe.
The first incident that I want to mention concerns a number of passengers who travelled from Newcastle to Canberra on Tuesday of this week, leaving Newcastle on flight 499, which normally should depart at 7 a.m. Because of fog, the aircraft was grounded for about twenty minutes and finally left approximately twenty-five minutes late. This caused flight 499, which would normally have arrived at Sydney about 7.35, to arrive there at approximately seven or eight minutes to 8 o’clock. The four passengers mentioned had made arrangements and bookings to travel from Sydney to Canberra on flight 421, departing at 7.55 a.m. Normally they would have had about twenty minutes to make the change from 499 to flight 421. As flight 421 left at 7.55, right on time, it had departed before the four passengers could board it. They went to the booking counter and were told that there was only one available seat on flight 499 from Sydney to Canberra. They apparently had a draw for the available seat and one gentleman was lucky enough to get it.
My complaint is that the staff of TAA should have known that the aircraft from
Newcastle was late. They should then have checked the bookings on it to see which passengers were booked forward from Sydney to other airports and should have determined whether alternative arrangements could be made for them. But no. The staff just sat back, taking the view that they had nothing to worry about because they were not booked to leave Sydney. So three passengers who should have been transferred from flight 499 to flight 421, which was scheduled to depart from Sydney twenty minutes after the normally scheduled time of arrival of the aircraft from Newcastle, had to wait until 11 a.m. when flight 449, the next available service, was due to leave. There were at the airport at the time booked passengers who, I am certain, would have been happy to exchange their seats on flight 499 for seats on flight 421 in the circumstances. Had this been arranged by the staff of TAA the needs of all four passengers from Newcastle would have been satisfactorily met. As it was, three of them had to wait for about two hours and fifty minutes. This haphazard and sloppy kind of organisation is not good enough for an airline under the present two airline system and I hope that the Minister for Civil Aviation will bring the circumstances to the attention of the appropriate authorities so that the fault can be rectified. If he wants further details, I am prepared personally to give him the information.
I turn now to the next incident. I do not propose to give names and addresses, but the address and telephone number of the person in question are written on the back of my notes. I shall now recite the facts concerning this incident. On either the afternoon of Tuesday, 4th April, or the morning of Wednesday, 5th April, a telephone reservation was made with TAA in Melbourne for a lady whom I shall identify just as Mrs D. to travel by flight 512, the 9.35 a.m. Boeing 727 jet service from Melbourne to Adelaide on Saturday, 8th April. When the booking was made, an indication was given that the ticket would be picked up on Friday, 7th April. It was picked up at 9 a.m. on that day. Mrs D. reported to the desk in the terminal at Essendon at ten or fifteen minutes past nine on the Saturday morning, for the flight, which, as I have said, was due to depart at 9.35 a.m.
She was given a seat reservation for seat 9a. Five minutes after boarding the plane in response to the call for passengers to go aboard, she was unloaded and given a reservation on a Viscount aircraft. Mark the difference. From a 727 she had to come down to a Viscount. The Viscount service left Melbourne shortly after 10 a.m. The result was that Mrs D. arrived in Adelaide after 12 o’clock. I understand that she had made arrangements for a number of personal matters to be attended to as she was to attend an important function that afternoon. It being a Saturday, all the shops were closed when she arrived and she was unable to complete the arrangements for which she had already made bookings, and she was unable to communicate with those with whom the arrangements had been made. This is the bad aspect of the whole affair. The lady had been booked on a particular aircraft. Why was she offloaded? AnsettANA 727 jet, flight 202, was due to depart at 9.45 a.m., ten minutes after the TAA aircraft. The Ansett aircraft left with seven vacant seats. Why was not this lady advised of the situation and transferred from TAA to Ansett?
On Tuesday 18th April flight 426 from Melbourne to Canberra and Sydney was indicated on the flight board in Melbourne as loading through gateway 5. The hostess on ground duty directed passengers to a plane through gateway 4, which was on the opposite side of the tarmac from gateway 5. After the passengers neared this aircraft an officer of TAA ran out and said: ‘You are going to the wrong aircraft. Your aircraft is way over there’, and he indicated an aeroplane some distance away. The passengers had to traipse all the way back and then approach the aircraft through gateway 8. I ask honourable members to bear in mind that the indicator board showed gateway 5, the hostess directed the passengers through gateway 4, and the actual entry should have been made through gateway 8. This is another example of inefficiency.
Another case that has been referred to my attention concerns a passenger who was booked to travel from Hobart to Brisbane on 22nd March. He travelled from Hobart to Melbourne on flight 444, leaving Hobart at 5.30 p.m. When he arrived in Melbourne, where he was booked on flight 408 via Sydney to Brisbane - a flight which would have enabled him to make a connection at Brisbane to his next port of call - he was advised that he had been transferred from flight 408, a 727 jet, to special flight G80, a Viscount, which left Melbourne twenty minutes later than flight 408. When he arrived in Sydney five minutes before the departure of flight 408 for Brisbane, he was told at the booking counter that the Melbourne office of TAA had informed Sydney that he was not a passenger on 408. This was perfectly true, because TAA had shipped him off it. He had to remain in Sydney until 12.20 the next morning, when he was accommodated on a New Guinea flight. He arrived in Brisbane at 1.40 a.m., having missed his connecting flight from Brisbane to his next port. Ironically his luggage from Melbourne was sent on flight 408 to Brisbane. His luggage was not at the international terminal in Brisbane where the New Guinea flight touched down to discharge and load passengers. He was told to go to the TAA terminal to get his luggage. Naturally at 1.40 a.m. that office was closed. He travelled into the city, but the city terminal was closed too. That night he had to sleep in his travelling clothes and he had no shaving gear or other necessary toilet articles. Ultimately he secured his luggage from the TAA city terminal. It was not at the international terminal where he was told it would be by Sydney officers of TAA. In this case, too, details will be made available, as will the flight ticket, if the Minister is inclined to investigate this complaint.
On Monday a passenger boarded TAA flight 455 from Rochampton. This flight departed at 2.25 p.m. He arrived in Canberra, on flight 499, at 9.20 p.m. His luggage did not arrive in Canberra until the following day. He does not know where it went or where it came from; all he knows is that his luggage went astray. The infortion that I have brought to the attention of honourable members is worthy of the Minister’s consideration. I am certain that he will take these complaints up with the management of TAA. He should try to get these defects remedied. Honourable members travel extensively by air and they hear frequent complaints from people.
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. 3. Aston)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr McMahon, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise (he payment of up to $ 14.5m to assist the State of Tasmania in financing the cost of measures designed to alleviate the effects of the disastrous fires which occurred in that State during February of this year. Honourable members will recall that on 7th March the House was informed by the Prime Minister that the Government had agreed, in response to a request from the Premier of Tasmania, to provide the State with special financial assistance to enable it to undertake various restoration and relief measures. It was agreed that the actual measures to be taken would be State measures, while the Commonwealth would provide adequate support for the State’s overall financial position.
There were consultations between the Commonwealth and the State and, as a result, agreement was reached between the two Governments on the terms on which assistance would be made available, the amounts that would be provided under the agreement and the precise measures of assistance to be undertaken by the State. Because there has been some comment as to the spheres of responsibility, I recently discussed the matter with the Premier of Tasmania. He has assured me that he adheres explicitly to the terms of the agreement and has no wish to create the impression that there is anything but agreement between the Commonwealth and the State. He emphasised that in his view the proposed measures are the most generous ever known.
The measures which have been agreed between the two Governments include grants and loans for housing and loans to businesses and industry and to primary producers, in addition to expenditure on the relief of personal hardship and distress, emergency expenditure by State and local governments and expenditure on the restoration of public assets destroyed or damaged in the fires. I should point out that the assistance being afforded to individuals, businesses and primary producers on this occasion goes far beyond that provided in any similar instance in the past. In particular, there is no precedent to the assistance being provided for what can be described as insurable risks.
It is estimated that the maximum amount of Commonwealth assistance will be $14.5m, and, accordingly, provision is made for the appropriation of this amount in the Bill. The Bill provides that the terms and conditions of the Commonwealth financial assistance are to be as determined by the Commonwealth Treasurer. Honourable members will be glad to know, however, that agreement has been reached on this matter with the Tasmanian Government. It has been agreed that the Commonwealth’s financial assistance to the State will be provided partly by way of interest-free loans and partly by way of grants. The level of the assistance provided by the Commonwealth in each form will be related to the proportions in which the expenditures by the State on the agreed relief and rehabilitation measures take the form of loans and grants, respectively.
Under the terms of the agreement, Commonwealth assistance will be provided by way of grant and loans for the following categories of estimated expenditure by the State:
Relief payments from the Government Fund including payments to primary producers, commerce and industry to meet debts; assistance to primary producers left without income; payments to nonprofit organisations, to persons who in certain circumstances lost motor vehicles or tractors while fighting the fires and miscellaneous emergency payments.
Grants $750,000; Loans Nil; Total $750,000.
Grants to enable the State to provide minimum standard housing and to meet the cost in excess of insurance recoveries. Loans to finance loans by the States for re-mortgaging, where mortgages have been paid off from insurance and funds are no longer available, and to enable the
State Agricultural Bank to provide loans to those wishing to build slightly higherstandard houses.
Grants $4,000,000; Loans Sl.700,000; Total $5,700,000.
Loans to enable the State to make advances to businesses and industry destroyed or affected by the fires.
Grants Nil; Loans $1,000,000; Total 81,00,000.
Loans to enable the State to make advances to primary producers for the rehabilitation of fire-damaged farms.
Grants Nil; Loans $5,000,000; Total $5,000,000.
Assistance by way of grants for the restoration of public assets - including some betterment where appropriate.
Grants $1,250,000; Loans Nil; Total $1,250,000.
In addition to relief payments financed from the Government Fund, the Commonwealth is to provide grant assistance to recoup the State for emergency expenditures arising from the fires.
Grants $800,000; Loans Nil; Total $800,000.
Grand Total: Grants $6,800,000; Loans $7,700,000; Total $14,500,000.
As indicated in the table above, outright grants to the State are expected to total $6.8 million. The estimated advances of $7.7 million are to be made available to the State on an interest-free basis for a period of fifteen years but repayments will not commence until the fourth year of the loan and will then be made in twelve equal annual instalments. It has been agreed that the State will charge interest, where appropriate, on advances for housing and on loans to businesses and primary producers.
– What is the interest?
– That is for the State Government to decide, and it will be decided on the basis of need. It could be from nothing to 5i%. It is exclusively within the jurisdicition of the Tasmanian Government, not that of this Government. The interest thus received will be available to cover administrative costs and also to enable the State to meet any losses arising from bad debts. Should the interest received by the State be in excess of these requirements, that excess is to be applied to reduce the State’s financial dependence on the Commonwealth. It is expected that the assistance being provided to Tasmania will be spread over a period of three years, including the current financial year.
Over the years it has consistently been the policy of the Commonwealth to provide financial assistance to States in the event of natural disasters where the cost of the appropriate measures of relief have clearly been beyond the resources of the State governments concerned. Usually this assistance has been limited to half the cost to the State government of the relief of personal hardship and distress, emergency expenditure by the State government and expenditure on the restoration of public assets damaged or destroyed in the disasters. In the case of the recent widespread drought, as well as not imposing any matching requirements the Commonwealth Government recognised that the States concerned would need to provide loans to primary producers to enable them to carry on and, ultimately, to restock when the drought had ended. Accordingly, Commonwealth assistance is being provided to enable the States to make available to primary producers the necessary loan finance, where this is not available through normal commercial channels.
The measures being undertaken by the Tasmanian Government towards which the Commonwealth has agreed to provide assistance go considerably beyond those which the Commonwealth supported in the case of the drought and no matching requirement is attached to the Commonwealth assistance. In adopting this approach, the Government has been actuated by the very special circumstances of the Tasmanian disaster. I want to make it very clear that the scope and level of Commonwealth assistance in this case must not be taken as a precedent to be followed in the event of natural disasters occurring in other States, as undoubtedly they will. This applies particularly to the scheme for housing assistance. In all, over 1,300 houses were destroyed in the fires as a result of which some thousands were made homeless in the space of a few hours. A disaster of this magnitude in a comparatively small community called for extraordinary measures, and it is for this reason that the Commonwealth has agreed to support the proposals of re-housing that were announced by the Premier shortly after 7th February.
The Government has also had regard to the special position of Tasmania as the smallest State in the Commonwealth, the State most heavily dependent on the Commonwealth for financial assistance, and the State whose economy could least bear the impact of a disaster of this type and magnitude. It also recognises that Tasmania, as a claimant State, does not have available independent financial resources to enable it to bear more than a small share of the financial burden of the measures necessary to meet the situation. Consequently, the Commonwealth has indicated that it is prepared to meet by far the greater part of the cost of rehabilitation measures, and this Bill will authorise the payment of up to $14.5m for this purpose. Because it has no independent financial resources, the State’s contribution is expected to be limited to the $750,000 it will be making available for the relief of personal hardship and distress.
Honourable members will, of course, be aware that a very successful public appeal was conducted by the Governor of Tasmania and that over $4m has been subscribed to the Governor’s Relief Fund. In addition, of course, a very large sum is being paid out by insurance companies in Tasmania. All told, it has been estimated that the total expenditure from all sources on relief and restoration following the fires may be as high as $35m or even more-. This is a very large amount indeed, the expenditure of which will have significant effects in the comparatively small area adversely affected by the fires. I feel confident that with the measures we are supporting we can look forward to a very complete restoration of the fire-damaged areas of the State. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Freeth, and read a first time.
– I move - That the Bill be now read a second time.
Mr Speaker, since the passage of the States Grants (Advanced Education) Act 1966, there have been a number of developments which justify amendments to the Act and which, taken together, suggested to the Government that the best course would be to repeal the original Act and, in the form of the Bill before the House, to present an up to date and self-contained statement of the present position.
Honourable members may recall that, under the 1966 Act, we offered the States a matching arrangement of $1 Commonwealth to $1.85 of State contributions and fees for annual recurrent expenditure in colleges of advanced education, with the proviso that this should be limited to expenditure in excess of that incurred in the base year 1964-65. The Government announced at the recent Premiers Conference that it was now prepared to waive the base year condition and to take its share on the same ratio of 1 : 1.85 of all recurring expenditure in colleges of advanced education up to the maximum figures given for colleges in the 1966 Act. The result is an increase in the Commonwealth commitment of $6.768m for the triennium. The distribution as between States of this increase is shown in the following table which, with the concurrence of honourable members, I incorporate in Hansard:
We have, on different grounds, agreed to an increase in the grants for recurrent expenditure for Tasmania additional to the increase resulting from our decision to waive the base year requirement. This State recently informed us that the calculation which it had made to apportion recurrent costs over the triennium between advanced education courses and other courses, although at first appearing reasonable, did in fact underestimate considerably the real share attributable to advanced education courses. We have accepted that this was a mistake on the part of the State and that if the recalculated figures had been put to us at the time the original Act was being prepared we would, on advice from the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education - the Wark Committee - have accepted these figures. Consequently, the Bill before the House seeks to correct this error. This necessitates a further increase of $369,110 over the triennium, making the total maximum grant towards recurrent expenditure $554,420, as shown in the First Schedule to the Bill.
In the 1966 Act a number of colleges in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania had to be grouped together against total figures of Commonwealth grant for each group. This was necessary because the States concerned were unable, in the time available, to make firm individual recommendations about these colleges, although the total sums shown in the Schedules had been agreed. The Act provided for Parliament to be informed of approvals given by my colleague, the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), about the distribution of these aggregated sums. The Minister has taken these decisions in consultation with the States, and the amounts for the individual colleges formerly grouped in the Second and Fourth Schedules to the 1966 Act have now been incorporated in the First and Second Schedules respectively of this Bill, on the same basis as for any other college.
On the capital side there has been a further up-dating of the Schedules. Honourable members may recall that, for the sake of flexibility, the Minister has, and under the present Bill will continue to have, power to approve the addition of projects to those already listed for a State provided these projects are for the acquisition of land. He can also approve the transfer of funds between projects within a State’s programme of approved projects. Since the 1966 Act was passed the Minister has given approval for the purchase of land at the South Australian Institute of Technology and the Swinburne Technical College and for a number of adjustments to the New South Wales Institute of Technology and South Australian Institute of Technology building programmes. These variations which, as required by the Act, do not entail the provision of any additional money, have been incorporated in the Schedules to the Bill before the House.
Following a re-appraisal by the State of New South Wales of its likely needs for the triennium we have agreed, at the request of the State, to re-arrange the distribution of recurrent funds within the State and within the total amount previously agreed. The new programme for New South Wales places a stronger emphasis on the development of courses under the control of the Department of Technical Education, and honourable members will note that we have agreed to the inclusion of the New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music. This inclusion is subject to a further examination of the courses at the Conservatorium by the Wark Committee. On the other hand, the grants for the agricultural colleges in New South Wales have been reduced as the State has now decided that the entry level for a number of the courses at these colleges will not be raised to meet the Commonwealth’s criteria for advanced education courses at any rate during the present triennium.
All the variations of the 1966 Act which I have described are acceptable to the Wark Committee and have the agreement of the States concerned. We would expect, now these adjustments have been made to meet the States’ requirements, that the programme as presented in this Bill will be adhered to for the triennium. I commend this Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Howson, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. In consequence of the Government’s decision to extend superannuation benefits to married women who are employed as permanent officers in the Commonwealth
Public Service or who continue as permanent officers after marriage, the Superannuation Act (No. 2) 1966 made a number of amendments to the Superannuation Act 1922-1966. In the Treasurer’s second reading speech when introducing that legislation towards the end of the last Parliament it was pointed out that, owing to the extreme pressure of work upon the Parliamentary Draftsman and his staff at that stage of the Parliamentary session, it had not been possible to attend to all the minor consequential changes which were seen to be necessary. However, the Bill provided the necessary basic changes and, as the Government did not wish to delay the admission of married women as contributors, the legislation was introduced with the undertaking that a further Bill would be prepared to provide amendments relating to those minor aspects.
The present Bill attends to the outstanding matters which are fundamentally machinery amendments resulting from the acceptance of married women as contributors. For example, provision is made for dealing with the pension of a married woman who, after becoming entitled to a pension, is sentenced to imprisonment, becomes insane or deserts her dependants, and the amendments follow the existing provisions relating to male pensioners in such circumstances. At the same time, the Parliamentary Draftsman has taken the opportunity of redrafting some of the provisions that were amended last year in order to improve the form in which they are expressed.
The Bill also remakes section 44 of the Principal Act to rectify anomalies which result from the present provision and to introduce new factors for calculating the increased pension benefits that are paid in respect of extended services beyond the elected age for retirement. The new factors are consequential upon the Government’s decisions arising from the eighth quinquennial investigation of the Superannuation Fund as at 30th June 1962, and relatively small increases in pension will be paid to, or in respect of, those who served beyond their elected retiring age and who have died or retired since that date. The increases are confined to this later group because the extended service rendered by any who retired or died before 30th June 1962 was taken into account in the calculation of their share of the surplus in the fund that was distributed in accordance with the provisions of the Superannuation Act 1965.
I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Cream) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Howson, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to correct a drafting error in the Schedule to the National Debt Sinking Fund Act 1966. In the first column of that Schedule the Northern Territory (Administration) Act was cited as the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910-1962, whereas the correct citation was the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910-1965. This Bill corrects the citation.
I commend the Bill to the House.
– In view of the explanation given by the Minister for Air (Mr Howson) the Opposition offers no objection to the passage of this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Howson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 19 April (vide page 1466), on motion by Mr Adermann:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of the Dairying Industry Bill is to continue for another five years, under the dairy stabilisation plan, the annual bounty payment of $27m. Complementary legislation, the Processed Milk Products Bounty
Bill, provides for the continuance of the payment of an additional $800,000 annually as a bounty on the export of processed milk products. In his second reading speech the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) said that the Government had agreed to a further extension of this scheme because it believed that it was a sound investment in a vital area of primary production. I think this is very true. However, I am afraid that many people in this House and outside are unaware of the size of the dairying industry and its value to the economy of Australia.
The gross sales of produce from the dairying industry - butter, cheese, milk, cream, culled cattle and pigs - totalled $504m last year. Some idea of the size of the industry can be obtained if this figure is compared with the gross income of $840m from wool, $517m from wheat and $508m from meat. These figures show that the dairy industry is the fourth largest primary industry in Australia. Although figures relating to employment in the industry were given earlier in this debate, 1 repeat that it supports directly and indirectly 600,000 people. These people are employed on farms and in factories. The figure does not include, as some people thing it does, people in towns not associated with the industry. It does not even include people on the distribution side of the industry.
The large sum of between $ 1,400m and $ 1,600m is invested in farms and factories. The annual factory purchases of products to assist dairy farmers in making their products total $236.5m and, according to the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures, dairy farmers spend about $68m annually on manufactured goods such as farm machinery, tractors, veterinary requirements and dairy requisites. So, it is easy to see that this is a very large industry. It has had a big influence on the closer settlement of areas throughout Australia. The subsistence of many of the large towns one comes across when driving through the States is largely dependent on the dairying industry in the district. It is true to say, particularly of Victoria, that entire regions are dependent on the prosperity of this industry. Obviously, therefor, it is an industry of magnitude and importance in the Australian economy. It is not a back yard or billycan industry, as one would have been led to believe by statements made during the debate yesterday. Nor is it a backward industry, as one also would have been led to believe. The industry has become highly technical. There have been tremendous technological changes, both on the farm and in the factory. Modern equipment has taken over from the methods of the hard old days. Today farmers have hay balers, forage harvesters and tractors to assist them in their day to day work. The industry has progressed from the days of milk can pick-ups to refrigerated farm vats. Modern refrigerated milk tankers pick up the milk at the farms and deliver it to the factories.
The industry has made advances in farm management practices. The introduction of artificial insemination and herd testing has improved the productivity of the industry. The figures dealing with this aspect were quoted yesterday. Farmers also have devoted time to pasture improvement, disease control and the development of irrigation where it is possible. Farmers contribute to the research being done in their own industry to the tune of approximately $2m. Research has covered such matters as machinery, water and soil requirements, and health factors such as vaginitis and abortion.
There have also been big changes since the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry of 1961 and since we last discussed the stabilisation plan which operates throughout Australia. Sweeping changes have been brought about by the introduction of the refrigerated bulk milk farm vats. As a result of these changes, there has been a great rationalisation of production. Many of the small factories which used a horse and cart to pick up milk in the old days have now merged together and as a result have been able to achieve a great rationalisation of transport costs and production costs. Also there has been a better use of capital. Many of the factories have laboratories of their own so that very close product control can be maintained. Managers of factories are highly skilled and competent people who are very well trained in the technical side of production. They are well aware of public issues affecting their products.
This Bill we are discussing is aimed at continuing the stabilisation plan and the bounty for a further five years. 1 would like to relate some of the history of equalisation and the bounty. A former honourable member for Gippsland, the late Mr Tom Paterson, was the first to introduce equalisation. He did this because of competition on the home market between one factory and another for sales in that market, having regard to the lower export prices to be obtained overseas. For the first time the industry spoke with one voice and it agreed upon equalisation. This continued until 1942 when the Labor Government, which was then in power, brought this stabilisation plan into effect. That Government followed up the plan introduced by the late Tom Paterson. It was the Labor Government of 1942 which first introduced the bounty. It did so because of the issues affecting the industry at that time. There was a world war and the Government had introduced price control. It was the Government’s wish to keep prices down. It fixed the price of butter well below the cost of production to the dairy farmer and so that the farmer could make a reasonable living it introduced a subsidy of £1.2m. The industry opposed this at the time because it felt that the bounty would be a weapon with which it would be belted at a later date.
In 1943 the Labor Government introduced the concept of the cost of production under which the returns of the farmers were based on the cost of efficient production. Of course, during the war costs rose quickly and tremendously. In 1942 the subsidy was £1.2m. When based on the cost of efficient production, in 1943-44, the subsidy rose to £7.3m, or $14.6m. The plan was continued after being reviewed in 1947. A guaranteed price was paid to producers. It is interesting to note that the bounty fluctuated in common with fluctuations in the United Kingdom price based on the cost of efficient production. In 1948-49; for example, the bounty was £4. 8m. In 1951-52 it rose to £17.8m when based on that method.
There was a change of government in 1949 and the plan was altered by the new government. In 1952 the Commonwealth Government introduced a guaranteed return to the Australian dairy farmers, based on consumption within the Australian community plus 20%. This prevented the industry from expanding at a tremendous rate, and from selling at a loss on markets overseas. In other words the future of dairy farmers was not underwritten entirely by the Government. The subsidy was paid after an inquiry into the cost of production. Halfway through the period of this stabilisation plan it was found that there was a long delay in final payment to producers because export returns were unknown until long after the end of the season. The dairy industry came to the Government, of its own volition, and requested that the subsidy be fixed at a set amount at the commencement of the season. Also at this same time the industry accepted responsibility for fixing the local price. So it was that in 1956-57 the subsidy amounted to £13. 5m or $27m. It has remained at that figure ever since. The simple fact is that this system has become an integral part of the farmers’ returns. An interim payment is made by the equalisation committee to the factories and the dairy farmers receive a Commonwealth bounty every month with their cheques. The final bounty payment is made when final production figures for the season are known.
The rejection of the cost of production method in assessing the bounty to be paid means that under equalisation the export price becomes very important in the final price to the farmer. The only way in which the dairy farmer could lift his returns was to improve his efficiency and productivity and to lower his unit cost. It is interesting to notice that in the period from 1956 to 1965 the Consumer Price Index has risen by 31% but the price of butter to the Australian consumer has risen only by 11%. At the same time, the export market - which, historically, has been the United Kingdom market - has remained fairly static. In fact, over the period of ten years from 1954-55 to 1964-65 the export price was $40 per cwt. In 1964-65 the price came back to $34 per cwt.
Having regard to the method now used to arrive at the price of dairy products, the only way that dairy farmers can stay in business is to increase output and efficiency. They do not have guaranteed costs of production as they had in earlier years. The farmer has a responsibility to increase his production. There has been criticism of the dairy industry because it has a home price and an export price. There has been criticism because the industry is selling butter overseas at lower prices. But I would remind the House that this system is used by manufacturing industries throughout the world. They establish a home price and an export price. As a matter of fact some Australian manufacturing industries use this device. But this is not the end of the argument. We have to remember the gigantic subsidies paid by producing countries throughout the world and the effect that they have on what we call our world market - the United Kingdom market. The United Kingdom market has been historically a market for dairy products from Australia. The United Kingdom has adopted a cheap food policy over the years. It has encouraged its farmers to produce as much as possible and to sell it for whatever prices can be obtained. The Government makes up the difference. This policy gives the United Kingdom the advantage of a low basic wage. It has given the United Kingdom manufacturing industries a tremendous advantage over the years.
The United Kingdom has paid tremendous subsidies to its farmers. The extent of those subsidies is difficult to assess. On whole milk production alone there has been a subsidy of $30m. A subsidy is paid in respect of all means of production, from farm improvements, fertilisers, ploughing, drainage, tuberculosis tested herds, water supply, stock rearing, and calf production to hill farms. This is the kind of market with which we must compete. We must realise that the total amount paid by the United Kingdom in support prices and guarantees last year was $3,836m. That is how much the Government of one of our markets for butter paid to its farmers. The remarkable thing about all this is that if Britain enters the European Common Market, she will lose the advantage that now accrues to her manufacturing industries from her cheap food policy because subsidies to farm industries will not be allowed. As a result, the basic wage will go up and Britain’s manufacturing industries will have to compete on a much more even footing with member countries of the Common Market. I only hope that having regard to her desire to enter the Common Market, Britain will give support to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) in the Kennedy Round talks, where h° is endeavouring to gain reasonable access to markets for Australian agricultural products and a reasonable price for those products. It is my belief that the United Kingdom could well set an example by taking a firm stand on this matter. The simple situation is that the Australian producer who sells his product on the London market has to compete with depressed prices prevailing in some overseas countries. All dairying countries have subsidies, for their own political reasons or for other reasons. They have a high home price. Let me compare the situation in some of the major producing countries with the Australian situation. Last year Canada had a subsidy of $80m. This has been increased to $120m. Yet the home price has remained 436s sterling per cwt. The United States paid a subsidy of $3 15m to its dairying industry and had a high home price of 535s sterling per cwt. The Common Market countries have subsidies totalling $650m and home prices ranging from one country to another of up to 706s sterling per cwt. The point I make is that these other producing countries have much higher subsidies than has Australia and they have higher home prices than has Australia, our home price being 416s sterling per cwt. Yet we are expected to sell at 300s per cwt on what is virtually a dump market - the United Kingdom market.
Australia ranks in the first ten producing countries in terms of milk products, third in terms of exports of dairy products, and third in terms of the domestic price to its consumers. One cannot say that this is a bad record; one can say only that it is a good record. All these figures must be studied against a background of the high cost of protection to our manufacturing industries. I am not arguing against protecting manufacturing industries; I am simply explaining a point. The figures must also be looked at against the background of the protected wage system throughout Australia. Our dairying industry is the second most efficient in the world. New Zealand has an excellent dairy industry, but there the industry is based on a lower standard of living and a lower wage and cost structure. However, in the matter of production per cow or per acre, the New Zealand industry is no better than the Australian industry. New Zealand’s advantage lies in its lower standard of living. Not every New Zealander can own a motor car, a television set, a refrigerator or the other things that we in Australia own. New Zealand has a lower cost structure; this is its advantage.
All that the critics do in talking about abolition of the dairy industry in Australia is make a better case for the abolition of the dairy industry in France, Germany, Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Holland, Sweden, Italy and many other countries because Australia is a far more efficient producer than are those countries. If the world wants food, Australia is the country to produce it economically and efficiently. In the course of the debate there have been many attacks on the efficiency of our dairy industry. There have been many attacks made outside the Parliament on the efficiency of the industry. These attacks are made by people who are, in my opinion, either misinformed or lacking in real knowledge. When the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) was talking about efficiency yesterday I interjected to ask how he measured efficiency. He had been referring to butter fat production per acre or per cow. On both criteria the Australian industry is equal to the world’s best. What is affected is our ability to sell at reasonable prices on the world’s markets.
Let me illustrate a point about efficiency. The honourable member for Dawson may well ponder what I say. Is a farm that produces 500 lb of butter fat per acre more efficient than a farm that produces 250 lb of butter fat per acre? The logical and immediate answer that comes to mind is that the farm producing 500 lb per acre is twice as efficient as the other farm; but this may not be so because it is my belief that the only way to measure real efficiency is by measuring the cost of production per lb or per gallon at average test. Then if you wish you can relate the result to the capital investment on the farm and see whether the farm is over-capitalised or under-capitalised.
To take the matter further let us look at the Sydney milk zone, where the price paid for milk to farmers within the zone is 49.1c a gallon. The Sydney milk zone is an arbitrary area. A man on one side of a road may be in the zone and will get 49.1c a gallon for his milk, but another man on the other side of the road may be out of the zone and will get only 22c a gallon for his milk. The remarkable thing about this debate and the remarks of those honourable members from New South Wales who have been attacking the Bill - I think particularly of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) and the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Bridges-Maxwell) - is that none of them paid any regard to the significance of the Sydney milk zone when referring to the problems of the dairying industry on the north coast of New South Wales. None of them turned his mind to this aspect, yet 50% of dairying in New South Wales is done within the boundaries of the Sydney milk zone. In my opinion, within the Sydney milk zone the costs of production are so high that we do have an inefficient industry. In fact, on purely economic standards, I suggest that the Sydney milk zone is the most inefficient part of the milk industry in Australia. I do not blame the farmers for this situation. It is a situation which was created years ago by the former New South Wales Labor Government and with which the industry is still living.
– The situation is the same under the present State Government.
– The present State Government has been in office only a couple of years. Give it time. Back in 1960 the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry reported that it was essential that something be done about the Sydney milk zone. The Committee made two comments worthy of note. Section 8 on page 115 states:
The liquid milk sections of the industry are generally on a price basis entirely unrelated to, and considerably higher than, the basis adopted for butter and cheese. The high prices have detrimentally affected consumption and have nurtured a cost growth of disturbing proportions.
When we turn to page 97 of the report we find:
If producers of milk or butter could be assured of a price, for the whole of their production, equivalent to a retail price of 70: per lb for butter-
That was the price in 1960; I believe it is 92c today- there would be no need for any inquiry into their problems.
That is how serious the matter was in 1960 when the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry looked at the subject. Within the context of the dairy industry the problem areas may well be on the north coast of New South Wales. I do not know whether they are situated there - other honourable members have elaborated on them - but if they are there then most certainly the answer to some of their problems would be a better price for products from these low cost producing areas which are sold in high priced selling areas.
– The McCarthy report recommended that.
– The honourable member for Cowper interjects to say that the McCarthy report recommended that. I remind him that I have just read out that part of the McCarthy report. The industry in the Sydney milk zone is a hothouse industry. That is a simple fact. Within this zone - this fixed arbitrary line - milk must be produced for the whole year. Consequently we have a situation where in the winter cows are fed with concentrates and all sorts of expensive foods to enable the farmers to maintain their winter-time quotas. The end result of this is that in the spring and right throughout the rest of the year there is a tremendous surplus of milk which is simply made into butter. Those producers then receive their share of the Commonwealth subsidy.
The arbitrary line fixed for the Sydney milk zone may have been well and good in the days of the horse and buggy when there was a milk can pick-up, when cans were picked up within a few miles of the town and carted by horse and buggy to the towns. But today we have refrigerated farm vats, good roads and refrigerated milk tankers. The cost of shifting milk from one area to another is not as high as it was years ago. I believe that this is one part of the industry which certainly requires some adjustment. We cannot go on in a situation such as we have at present where there is an arbitrary zone, especially when we remember that the population of Sydney is expected to double by the end of the century. Unless something is done people outside the zone will be in a worse position and those inside the zone will have a higher cost to produce milk while the consumption in Sydney will continue to go down, as has happened in recent years. Milk should not be a luxury, nor should cream. I submit to the House that in Sydney both are luxuries. Consequently, urgent action is required to remedy the situation. One thing which may have an effect on the situation is the introduction of ultra high temperature milk or stay-fresh milk in tetra packs. I have had some of these flown out from England to Australia and I have tested the milk. Certainly it is palatable and it does stay fresh. The introduction of this system would eliminate daily deliveries to housewives who could buy milk as they now buy Rinso. Certainly the cost would be reduced considerably.
I spoke earlier of mergers and explained the situation at the time when it was necessary to use horses and carts. The factories themselves have come a long way in mergers in an endeavour to increase returns to their producers. The rationalisation of transport has been one factor and the rationalisation of equipment has been another. In addition the factories are now better equipped and the industry has been looking inwardly at its own problems in relation to this matter. The companies have recognised that diversification and rationalisation are essential. They understand that they need to get together because it is only by a large throughput that a company can afford the diversification which it requires to assist its own farmers. Our situation in Australia is entirely different from what applies in New Zealand. The New Zealand Dairy Produce Board can direct milk from one factory to another and to a product which may have a better sale. When I was in New Zealand I saw milk going to a cheese factory from another company which was entirely unrelated because cheese was selling better at that time. In Australia the companies have to do this for themselves. The Australian Dairy Produce Board has not the power to take the sort of action which is required. When we have small factories which are producing butter only there is nothing they can do about the situation. They are under-capitalised and just not able to diversify.
The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) spoke of diversification of sales. I was disappointed to see that when he was speaking of some of our export sales overseas he made no mention of two of our best selling products. I refer to skim milk powder and casein. He mentioned processed milk products, the production of which has grown to some small degree, but I remind him that sales of skim milk powder have grown from 37,000 tons in 1960-61 to 50,000 tons, and casein has grown from 11,000 tons to 22,000 tons.
– But what is the total value of this?
– I remind the honourable member that this is going to Asia, not to the United Kingdom. The same story is told about cheese. I should like to make another reference to what was said by the honourable member for Bradfield. He said that the oil seed growers of Australia were handcuffed. This theory has been blown out a thousand times. I am sorry the honourable member has not merely taken the time to study the subject. The fact is that the dairy industry is a big one. It has problems and problem areas. I do not deny that, nor do I make apologies for it. But I submit to the House that the industry is looking at its problems and is facing up to them, on the farms, in the factories and internationally. I submit that by reducing the five year stabilisation plan and the five year bounty as proposed by the amendment will only serve to damage the hearts of those who are trying to do something for the industry. Therefore I reject the amendment proposed to be moved by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) and I support the motion.
– I have to concede, and even the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) would have to concede, that the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) is one of the most effective speakers that the Australian Country Party has in this House - most effective at confusing people. Let us consider some of the things he said. I must confess that I have been completely perplexed trying to work out just where he stands in this issue of the problems of the dairying industry. The honourable member began by saying that the dairy subsidy scheme was introduced by a Labor Government, that it was not needed by the farmers, that it was a bad thing which caused a lot of harm. Then he said that it was now being continued by the Country Party and was a good thing and was badly needed. Then he moved on to the subject of efficiency and inefficiency in the industry.
He talked at great length in an attempt to explain that there were no problems in the industry today. What does it matter, he said, whether one farmer is producing a 500 lb equivalent per acre while another farmer is producing a 250 lb equivalent per acre. By some strange form of logic he went on to suggest that it might appear on the surface that the man producing the 500 lb was an efficient producer, whereas in actual fact the man producing 250 lb could be more efficient. He laboured this point. We all know that he is most adept at labouring points. Finally he said that there are problems in the industry. He is the first jockey I have seen who can ride all horses in the one race. What the honourable member said was in direct conflict with what the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) has suggested. The Minister has clearly stated - and has been a long time arriving at this point - that there are some problems in the dairying industry in relation to some marginal producers and that a practical plan has to be developed to help these people. From what the honourable member for Gippsland said it would appear that he denies this completely.
– Would he be prepared to forego some of Victoria’s subsidy and give it to Queensland?
– I do not know about that, but I do know that quite obviously he is prepared to sink the honourable members for Lyne (Mr Lucock), Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) and Paterson (Mr Fairhall) in this Parliament without any qualms because these honourable members are in the New South Wales milk zone area. Incidentally the New South Wales Liberal-Country Party Government has been responsible for endorsing the continuation of this policy, but the honourable member for Gippsland wants it thrown out of the window. He is not worried about these other three members. This is further evidence of, firstly, his inconsistency, and secondly, his lack of thought at the implications of what he is saying.
Finally 1 want to put him right on the historic details. He often makes mistakes, as we know so well, but because he is such an affable young fellow and willing to learn we do not mind, from time to time, putting him right. He said that the dairy subsidy scheme was originally the brainchild of one of his predecessors a long time back in about 1942.
– He referred to the equalisation scheme, which is quite different.
– The honourable member for Cowper is here. I remember the last time we discussed dairy matters: the honourable member went to great pains to criticise figures I quoted. He suggested that they were completely dishonest. This happened last year or the year before. I was able to produce the Australian Dairy Produce Board’s report which contained the figures. It is strange that a man who represents a large dairying area should not have been familiar with that report. Yesterday he attacked the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and said that the figures the honourable member was quoting were completely dishonest, so the honourable member for Dawson was forced to drag out a report which showed the production figures for the area it is alleged the honourable member for Cowper represents. Obviously the honourable member for Cowper does not read production figures. However, I am being delayed by this side play from the playful members of the Australian Country Party. Before I touch on the case of the dairying industry I want to refer to the inaccuracy of the historical references made by the honourable member for Gippsland.
– Gippsland not gippsland’.
– Whichever way it is pronounced, it is still being poorly represented. The honourable member for Gippsland clearly suggested that one of his predecessors in the Country Party was responsible for the dairy subsidy.
– Responsible for equalisation, which is quite different.
– This House would never be the same if the honourable member for Cowper were not here, but it would be improved. The original plan, which ran from April 1947 to June 1952, provided a guaranteed return to dairy farmers for all milk and cream supplied for manufacture into butter, cheese and processed milk products, based upon the cost of production. This plan brought stability to the industry for the first time and enabled dairy farmers to plan for the future with confidence. The person responsible for this was the former member for Lalor in this House who, at that time, was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture - Reg Pollard. These, briefly, are the facts.
This Bill proposes to continue the dairy subsidy which was introduced by- a Labor Government in 1947. Labor supports the Bill. It is going to provide an amount of $27m per annum as a subsidy to the dairying industry. Thus, over the five-year period covered by the Bill, the subsidy will total $135m. Frankly, just paying the dairying industry off each year - or each five years - as the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) is prepared to do is not the way to attack the problems of this industry. One of the first things that springs to my mind is the unfair way in which this subsidy is doled out. The primary producer on the bigger block of land - the so-called efficient producer - with a larger herd and bigger capital investment, because of his increased production or greater production attracts the greatest amount of the subsidy from the Commonwealth provision. However, it is the man on the marginal and sub-marginal farm that we are greatly concerned about. It could be the man who has the problem of an area which is too small in terms of his capital outlay; it could be the man whose farm has a big acreage but whose land is unsuitable for this type of farming; or it could be the man who has problems arising from the need for protein pastures in winter and in spring. As the honourable member for Dawson pointed out, there is this particular problem in Queensland where paspalum and kikuyu are the main natural grasses and these become distressed and lose much of their body during periods of the year and, as a result, the production of the dairy herds is affected. These are aspects that we must worry about.
We must also be concerned about the provision of water. I remember during the course of the drought which afflicted Queensland so severely recently just how my electorate was affected. In fact it was affected so badly that the dairy farmers arranged a protest meeting at the lack of action by the State Liberal-Country Party Government and the Federal Liberal PartyCountry Party Government. I was a speaker at that meeting as was the Minister for Primary Industry. It is interesting to note that the only contribution the Minister for Primary Industry made was to say that if the farmers listened to me they would be completely socialised and would lose their farms overnight. This had no frightening effect on the farmers so the Minister changed his attack and started to stamp the floor and say: ‘You fellows should not be attacking me. I am the only bloke doing anything for you in the Federal Cabinet. Those who are doing you damage are the city blokes who represent city interests.’
– Then he attacked the Liberals.
– Then he launched a spirited attack, by inference, on the Liberal Party members of the Cabinet. I do not want to spend much time on this, but so much for the collective responsibility of Cabinet. It was an uninspiring performance by the Minister for Primary Industry. This I want to know more than anything else: what is the Government going to do about the problems of the marginal and submarginal areas? It is true, as the honourable member for Gippsland suggested a few minutes ago, that industries receive subsidies of various forms. In fact nearly thirty industries in Australia are receiving subsidies which, in 1965-66, amounted to more than $143m. Then there are the indirect subsidies of tariffs and so forth. This is failing completely to look at the real core of the problem of the dairying industry today.
What is to be done for these people who are really battling and who are in difficult circumstances? The problem can be overcome only by a rather large contribution on the part of the Federal Government. Let me quote some figures of production which illustrate rather pointedly that a problem exists more in some States than in others. The figures refer to the average milk output for each of the States in the period 1963-64 to 1964-65. In New South Wales the average was 361 gallons; in Victoria, 593.5; Queensland, 304; South Australia, 604.5; Western Australia, 468; Tasmania, 583.5; the Australian Capital Territory, 549.5; and the Australian average was 459.5 gallons. The Minister for Primary Industry made this observation on these figures:
It is generally accepted that Queensland is environmentally less favourably suited for dairying than the southern areas of the continent.
He has been Minister for Primary Industry for many years and I should like to know why he has not done something about meeting this particular problem of Queensland much earlier. Why has he sat back and allowed things to worsen? In the northern rivers area of New South Wales is the same problem as there is in Queensland. This problem is related to the small areas of the farms. This is why the New South Wales average is 361 gallons and the Queensland average 304 gallons. These figures have been available for a long time and they should have spurred some sort of reaction from the Government. There has been a gradual improvement in average outputs but the fact is that in the northern rivers section of New South Wales and in Queensland, because of environmental problems, there is need for a positive plan of action to help the dairy farmers get on to their feet.
We have had some vague reference in the Minister’s second reading speech to a possible plan. He made the statement that the marginal and sub-marginal producers would be helped by amalgamating farms or by phasing them out into some other sort of industry. This is a very vague concept. We are worried about whether these people - these human beings - will be adequately cared for. We have seen too much in this highly competitive so-called free enterprise society - this highly individualistic society - of lack of concern for other people who have problems and who crash by the way. We have seen it in the coal mines where mines have been closed down and the miners have been thrown into unemployment and have had to live on the dole for several weeks through no fault of their own. We are seeing it in the railways today. We have seen the corner stores close down. All this is happening rather painfully. Several thousand dairy farmers in Queensland alone have left the dairying industry in the past ten years. Of course, some of them have gone to beef production, but many of them have been painfully squeezed out of the industry.
– What would the honourable member do?
– I would change the Government and make sure that the northern rivers area of New South Wales had a better representative. These problems are continuing, but the Government sits back and says: ‘If we do anything, it will not be until after the next Senate election which will be held sometime this year’. Let me add emphasis to the argument about the problems of the dairying industry. A Mr W. O. McCarthy, who is a Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Economics, conducted a survey, a copy of which has reached me, sometime in 1965 in the Boonah area. This is quite a good area by Queensland standards. His report used the average of the best farms as a basis. Some of his findings were:
A comparison of financial and management data for al] 161 farms in the survey with the best 20 farms reveals some interesting features.
The best farms had a higher total and effective acreage.
On this larger area, more cows were run, but as well production per cow was also higher.
This led to a higher total gross income and also to a higher total net income and a higher net income per cow, per acre, and per labour unit.
Because of the larger area and larger output, total costs on the best 20 farms were higher than the average for all farms but costs per pound of butterfat produced were lower because total costs were spread over a larger output This is the crux of the dairy farm problem in Queensland. Small farms, with low cow numbers and low production per cow, cannot spread costs to the same extent that large farms with higher incomes can. Thus net incomes are low and there is no surplus money for development or improvement and little cause for optimism in the future.
I will restate that. There is little cause for optimism in the future while the Government persists with its present attitude to this industry. These problems are dealt with in a report of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, which shows that exactly 68% of Queensland dairy farmers earn less than $3,000 per annum from their farming activities. Actually the dairy farmer should earn quite a bit more than that, especially if allowance is made for the capital he has invested in the farm, his management skills and the risks associated with primary production. He should have a much higher return than he now has. But once again the Minister for Primary Industry refuses to deal positively with these matters.
I would like to hear more discussion from members of the Australian Country Party instead of platitudes about diversification in the dairying industry. I understand that about 60% of the total output of the dairying industry goes into butter. It is obvious that such a heavy concentration on the one product is not in the best interests of the industry and it must be encouraged to diversify away from this one product as much as possible. In 1955-56 the average consumption of butter was 29 lb per head of population. In 1964-65 it had dropped to 22.6 lb per head of population. This fall is largely due to a change in dietary habits. People eat far fewer starchy foods such as bread and potatoes. Therefore, they are cutting back on their butter intake. Diversification is an area that should be more fully explored by the Government. The constant emphasis on the importance of the export market must remain. After all, we export to nearly 100 countries. In 1965-66 I understand that the dairying industry earned about $104m of export income. According to the industry, $1 in subsidy is earning about $4 in export income. This position should be examined. Perhaps if it were possible to increase the amount of export income that flowed from the subsidy, the industry would be on a much better footing.
I want to conclude by referring to two points. The first point is that the continuation of the subsidy, while the Government still ignores the problems facing the industry, will not help the industry at all. More farmers will be squeezed out of it and there will be much more personal loss and hardship in the industry. The living standards of dairy farmers will not be improved. It is well recognised that, to be successful, dairy farmers must operate as a family unit. My second point is that the Minister for Primary Industry, when he moves around the electorate, should be a little more honest and courageous in dealing with the problems of the dairying industry. He should speak directly to the people in the industry and try to discuss their problems objectively. The problems of the industry will not be helped by a Minister who battens on to it like a leach, particularly at election time, seeking out the popular cause and declaiming demagogic platitudes rather than honestly and objectively discussing the problems of the industry with the people in it. His shocking disregard for fact, his complete unawareness of his responsibilities, not as a cheap party political hack but as the Commonwealth Minister for Primary Industry, and his downright dishonesty when campaigning must mark him as a Minister who, when his qualities are assessed by history will be found badly wanting. In fact, in my area amongst dairy farmers he is jokingly referred to as the ‘minister for mendacity’ and I regret this very much.
– Order! The honourable member is out of order in making a reflection on the Minister.
– It is pleasing to hear members of the Opposition make some contribution to this debate. I was pleased to hear some of the comments of the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), but it is disappointing that his speech just oozed politics all the way through. I am sorry that he made a reflection on the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann), who has a tremendous reputation in every primary industry right around Australia. This debate has aroused considerable interest in the House, mainly because of certain challenges and accusations that have been made about the dairying industry. The bounty, inefficiency and the qualities of butter and margarine have all been discussed. During the course of my speech, I will try to counter various arguments that have been put forward, but 1 do not want to infuse into the debate any political slant.
The Bill seeks to give effect to measures which in close consultation with the dairying industry, through the Australian Dairy Industry Council and the Australian Primary Producers Union, the Government has developed as the fifth successive Commonwealth stabilisation plan. Each of these plans has differed slightly in detail from those that preceded it. Each has met the changing needs of the industry for a degree of stability, and has conferred the benefits of equalisation in the changing economic circumstances of the past two decades. The current proposals retain the important provisions of the fourth stabilisation plan. They are the guarantee of a bounty of $27m a year for each of the five years of the plan to be paid on butter, cheese and other butterfat products; a bounty of up to $800,000 a year on the butterfat content of processed milk products; and the underwriting of equalisation values for butter and cheese produced each year at levels to be determined by Cabinet prior to the commencement of each year. The level will be 34c per lb commercial butter basis for 1967-68, which is an increase of lc over the level ruling for the last five years.
In addition, and on the initiative of the industry, the Government has agreed in principle to assistance being given to high cost and marginal producers who choose to leave the industry on a voluntary basis. The Government will conduct a detailed examination to determine what it can usefully do to help marginal producers, where the producers wish to have this help. I emphasise that this is either to leave the industry or to secure the use of sufficient additional land and other means to lift the scale of operation of their properties to that of an economically viable farm unit. In this inquiry I have no doubt that the Commonwealth officers will seek the advice of officers of the various State Departments of Land and Agriculture and of representatives of the industry itself. I expect also that they will look into the vexed question of dairy farm finance, although I doubt that this is the important part of the problem. Special credit facilities for primary producers, including, of course, dairy farmers, have been made available through the efforts of this Government and the State Governments over recent years, but many of the people we wish to assist cannot present acceptable proposals to lending authorities. It will be the aim either to set them firmly back on their feet in dairying or to assist them to realise on their assets and make a fresh start outside the industry. Should it appear that farm reconstruction is being inhibited solely through lack of finance, present methods may need to be strengthened appropriately.
I would like to return later to these new proposals which had their origin in the industry’s own search for the greatest possible efficiency in order to adapt its operations and to compete in the extremely rough and tough atmosphere of international trading in agricultural commodities in the world of today. There may be some, like the nine wise university economists who could see no sound economic reason to justify the restrictions placed on table margarine, who consider that talk of subsidy and claims of efficiency in respect of the one industry go ill together. But we will not find numbered amongst them even one who appears to have an atom of understanding of the history of the industry and its development during the last sixty years.
There is little need for me to elaborate on the margarine versus butter question. My views are well known. The fact is plain: if the dairy industry is to be preserved in the national interest some restriction must be placed on the production of margarine. In all modern societies there are countless forms of restrictions based on the premise that they are in the public interest. In New Zealand where there is a national recognition of the tremendous importance to that country of its dairying industry, there is a prohibition on the manufacture of table margarine. In Australia it is quite obvious that some margarine manufactures are prepared for their own ends to ignore the importance of the Australian dairying industry to the Australian economy and to our development. For a period much of the promotion sponsored by the margarine manufacturers was based on the claim that margarine containing polyunsaturated fats was superior on health grounds. This gimmick, however, has failed to gain support from medical authorities both in Australia and the United States of America. Today we see the rather ludicrous spectacle of Marrickville Margarine Ltd presenting a cooking margarine which contains 90% animal fats as being suitable for table use. Of course the company now refers to animal fats as oleos. What it is really asking the housewife to do is pay an exorbitant price for dripping. Well, if Mrs Jones wants to use dripping on her bread I am sure the Australian dairying industry does not have any quarrel with her.
The dairying industry is a big and important one. Over the last three years it has earned export income for Australia in the following amounts: In 1963 $98. 4m, in 1964-65 $115.3m, and in 1965-66 $103m. These are substantial sums. The history of the Australian dairying industry is that of a great pioneering industry which was the mainstay of early efforts at decentralisation. For a century the industry has gained substantial export credits, even back in the time not so long gone by when wheat, minerals, manufactures and even wool added much less to the national income of the country than they do today.
In his second reading speech my colleague the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) stated that the aim of the bounty on the production of butter and cheese has been to maintain a reasonable return to dairy farmers and to keep the retail price of butter and cheese paid by Australian consumers down to a reasonable level. During the debate I have heard generalised criticisms of the efficiency of the Australian dairying industry. Such claims have often been based on the fact that the Government pays a bounty for the purposes that my colleague has explained. The critics have accused the industry at large of being inefficient, but they have not defined or qualified the term, nor have they substantiated thenclaim. Let me give some facts that should refute once and for all the charge that the Australian dairying industry as a whole is inefficient.
I refer, firstly, to the results of a survey presented by representatives of nineteen countries at the meeting of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade Dairy Group in Geneva last September. This revealed that the average price, plus bounty, received by Australian dairy farmers for milk produced for all purposes, including whole milk for liquid consumption, is the third lowest in any country of the world. As those who are in the butter producing section of the industry know only too well, their return is a good deal lower even than that of those in the milk section of the industry. The details of this survey are contained in a table which, because of its length, I shall not read but shall have incorporated in Hansard with the concurrence of the House. I shall refer to it as Table No. 1.
I have also two other short tables of statistics to which I shall refer, which I also consider to be essential to my rebuttal of the claim of inefficiency, and which, with the concurrence of the House, I shall also have incorporated in Hansard. I shall refer to them as Table No. 2 and Table No. 3.
My second point concerns prices paid for butter by Australian consumers, compared with those paid by consumers in other countries. According to the latest monthly bulletin of the Commodities Branch of the British Commonwealth Secretariat, the wholesale price of butter in Australia is the third lowest in a group of the main consuming countries listed in Table No. 2. My third measure of the efficiency of the Australian dairying industry is in a table compiled from information published by the Australian Commonwealth Statistician. This reveals that while wage rates have risen by 46.6% since 1953 and the consumer price index by 39.3%, the price of butter has risen by only 21.5%. These figures are shown in Table No. 3.
There are other measures of efficiency that I could quote. In 1952-53 the average annual production of whole milk per cow was 398 gallons. In 1965-66 the figure had risen by a substantial 20% to 480 gallons. A survey made by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in 1953 showed that the average yield per acre, on a commercial butter basis, was 28.8 lb, and per farm 8,468 lb. In a similar survey made in 1964, covering the average over the years 1961 to 1964, the figures had risen to 31.5 lb per acre, an increase of nearly 10%, and 12,021 lb per farm, an increase of 42%.
From whatever aspect one examines the overall efficiency of the Australian dairying industry, whether from a national or international point of view, the result clearly reveals that the industry can prove itself very efficient. But even with efficiency there are problems. With increasing affluence the per capita consumption of butter in the home market has tended to go down. Convenience foods are replacing home baking, and butter is reaching the point of oversupply in many parts of the world. In fact butter is being dumped in some of our traditional markets at well below the cost of production of even low-wage countries. The industry has met this challenge by levying its members for research and promotion, with increased milk output per cow, per worker and per acre in many areas. By aggressive selling of a quality product Australia has maintained its share of traditional export markets for butter, increased its sale of alternative products such as butter oil and ghee and increased substantially sales of cheese, particularly in Japan and the Philippines. At the same time exports of casein have more than doubled in recent years, while sales of skim milk powder have been maintained. This has been assisted by the establishment, under the auspices of the Australian dairying industry, of reconstitution plants in Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia.
At present we are unduly dependent on butter, a commodity most threatened by changing market tastes at home and competition from exporters abroad. The present moves to encourage full utilisation of milk for manufacture by increasing output of cheese, casein, and of dried milk and other non-butter dairy products merit careful study and support. As a producer, I would feel that a careful watch should be maintained on the method of payment under equalisation to ensure that undue rigidity is not introduced into the pattern of dairy production in favour of butter and at the expense of the highly nutritious solidsnotfat content and sugars of whole milk.
We will need to give close examination to the introduction of a system whereby the basis of payment can be altered so that it is more in keeping with changes in the pattern of output of the industry. The present basis of payment by some factories of only 4c or 5c per lb on butterfat content for whole milk above the price of cream may conceivably be justified under ruling market conditions, but I am not convinced that it is conducive to the long-term efficient development of the industry. It encourages farmers to pour skim milk down the throats of pigs while within a few thousand miles, and occasionally even within this country, young children suffer the effects of disease which could be cured by the addition to their diet of relatively small amounts of milk protein.
The new, scientific dairy farming, like all types of agriculture today, requires mechanisation, special pastures, and scientific feeding and breeding. Such farming can be profitable only when carried out on an appropriate scale on well managed farms and when closely adapted to prevailing economic conditions. No-one would pretend that a majority of dairy farmers, or even average dairy farmers, are possessed of all the knowledge and all the skills required to conduct a dairying enterprise at the peak of efficiency. Likewise, judging by some of the reported company failures in recent years, the batting average amongst a high proportion of captains of industry leaves a lot to be desired in that respect, too. However, that is another question.
All the scientific knowledge in the world is of little avail if a farmer’s turnover is so small that he has nothing left for investment, and a little to put aside as an insurance against the inevitable setbacks on the land, after meeting his essential living expenses. But it is extremely galling to me as one with a very deep interest in dairying and dairy farmers to hear the tag inefficient’ applied to a proportion of marginal farmers in the industry who have been caught up by changing circumstances very much beyond their control and who are making the best possible use of the resources at their disposal. I am thinking now of those pioneers, and their immediate descendants, who opened up country in my own electorate of Richmond and in other areas of Australia where there is a concentration of dairy farming. In this they were encouraged by closer settlement policies of the State governments in those times. By sheer hard work they created farms the size of which was largely determined by the amount of land they could reasonably expect to .clear and develop in a lifetime, and in so doing they believed they were creating an asset for themselves and their children and also for the nation.
It is an unfortunate fact that, to be economical, many of these farms should now be a great deal larger. In some cases the land would be better devoted, in the light of today’s scientific knowledge and the existing price and cost structure, to something other than dairying, maybe to beef raising or even to the growing of trees; but whatever the new use to which the land should be applied many of the existing farms are too small for today’s conditions. In past years low prices, land tenure conditions and similar impediments have prevented the necessary reorganisation of this sector of the industry. The situation as it stands now is that there is little that many of these men can do unaided to work out their own salvation. When a man has put twenty or thirty of the best years of his life into a property, normal human pride holds him back from simply walking off. In any case he may not know any other occupation, and middle age is not the best time to learn. So what we have seen is a situation where the owners of small farms - and often irrespective of their ability as farmers - have hung on in the industry in the hope that things would improve. To some it has become apparent that little hope lies in this direction.
A recent study of almost the entire population of dairy farms in my electorate of Richmond by an officer of the New South Wales Department of Agriculture shows that farmers have been leaving the industry at the rate of 3% each year over the last five years. This has been common experience in virtually every dairying region of Australia. But the research shows that there has not been a matching improvement .in profitability of farms which remain in the industry. I can believe this report. It is a tragedy to see, throughout the dairying industry, farms on first-class soil which are lying idle while improvements fall down and weeds and timber regrowth take charge of the land. This is a state of affairs we must change.
Sectors of our dairying industry can produce efficiently in competition with producers in any part of the world. I am now thinking in particular, but not exclusively, of the favoured regions of Gippsland and the irrigation areas of Victoria. Notwithstanding a great deal of ill-informed criticism, there are on the north coast of New South Wales and in the immediately adjacent area of Queensland, a number of highly successful dairy farmers. It is clear that a proportion of our present dairy farms will not become profitable unless they are increased in size, and this necessarily implies that a certain proportion of farmers will continue to leave the industry. But what we need is a rational regrouping of resources and not a wasteful and inefficient collapse.
At the present time farmers who remain in the industry are prevented from purchasing the farms of those who wish to leave because the purchase of a second farm would entail buying a redundant set of yards and bails, fences and other improvements unnecessary to the operation of an enlarged and amalgamated business. This leads to the absurd and wasteful situation where one farmer is holding on to his farm until it becomes so dilapidated that he must get off, at which time, having lost its value, his neighbour may or may not be in a position to purchase it to build up a decent scale of operations.
But more than a mere increase in acreage is needed. This must be accompanied by an application of the findings of the intensive research that is taking place, with new types of grasses and legumes and the use of nitrogen, increased usage of which has been facilitated by the Government’s nitrogen subsidy. This will allow farmers in our temperate areas to win some of the advantages long enjoyed by farmers in southern areas, where superphosphate has been the key to increased productivity. But of course if they are to be in a position to exploit these new developments to the fullest extent they must be in a reasonable financial position and on farms where they can apply these developments successfully and economically. The State Government’s pasture subsidy scheme has, of course, opened up a very valuable avenue of assistance to north coast farmers in this connection, and similar help is being given in Western Australia and in Queensland.
Whilst there is provision in this Bill for facilitating the exit from dairying of some farmers. I want to emphasise that there is very great scope for achieving outstanding results on many farms already in existence and on those that will be created as a result of amalgamation. While our main concern should be to achieve low-cost production, we must not lose sight of the fact that some - I hope many - farmers will find a solution to the problem of increasing their turnover by increasing their production. On many properties, total dairy output after amalgamation may well be less than when the land was operated under multiple ownership. This has certainly been the case in parts of southern Queensland in recent years. There, and on the northern coast of New South Wales, there is room for a diversification into beef and veal raising. I understand there is already evidence in the Western Australian dairy districts of a move into a combined sheep and dairy pattern of farming and to the production of some beef on dairy farms. T would expect this to continue.
I suspect that forestry has a potential contribution to make in infusing new life into some marginal dairying areas in most
States. In appropriate circumstances, forestry can be more profitable and provide more employment than can grazing or dairying. This could be important. As one who comes from a country area, I can see a drawback in a declining farm population in dairying districts. This might well react adversely on the prosperity of country towns. Until the special investigation which will need to be instituted by the Government is complete, it will not be possible to estimate with certainty the likely impact of any assisted scheme for the voluntary amalgamation of farms.
It seems to me that there are two facets of this question which must bear recognition. The first is that some continuation of the gradual erosion of the industry will occur, irrespective of any intervention. The second is that it seems reasonable to expect that a moderately reduced dairy population on profitable farms will bring a greater measure of prosperity to towns than will an existing less profitable industry in the surrounding countryside.
I would not like this House to think that there is in the dairying districts any lack of interest in finding solutions to the problems they face. On the contrary, in my own area there has been building up over recent years a strong current of feeling that is finding expression in such organisations as the Richmond Valley Development Association, the primary objective of which is to achieve the fullest possible use of the Valley’s tremendous resources, especially water. The people of the Richmond area are receiving the co-operation of the New South Wales Government in conservation programmes and of the State and Commonwealth Governments, through the Richmond River County Council, in flood mitigation work. This is only one example of the vigorous self-help policies which the people of the district are embracing.
Primary producer organisations, development committees and research groups have been doing their utmost for years to find answers to the problems of the dairying industry. So, I think I can claim that there is no lack of initiative or enthusiasm on the part of the people whom this Bill is designed to assist. It is to some extent unfortunate that the changes we envisage will almost inevitably take a considerable time to be brought about. Despite the greatest possible good will of the Government, it will not be possible to reorganise a widespread industry overnight. Until such time as this can be done, human considerations must weigh with considerations of economic efficiency to ensure that the dairying industry receives the support it merits and that there is protection for well over 60,000 Australian families directly employed on commercial dairy farms. I emphasise the word ‘families’, because many dairy farms are worked not by one man but by the whole family - husband, wife and children - and the problems of the dairying industry are not just economic but human problems as well.
Speaking as one who is intimately concerned with the dairying industry, I am well aware of its strengths and would not wish to exaggerate its weaknesses. There already exists a substantial sector of highly efficient dairy farms within the industry, and the measures to be introduced with this Bill can add to those numbers and to the ability of the industry to meet competition. Although as a northern producer I can envy the favourable conditions and admire the achievements of a large sector of the Victorian industry, the situation remains that an efficient industry can be built on the proportion of highly economic farms which already operate in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia - the major problem States. One danger which we must particularly avoid is that we will lose our dairying industry if we permit it to run down and become derelict. That this is a very real threat is quite obvious from a study of the American situation. There special action has had to be taken to try to boost the industry.
The dairying industry certainly has its problems, but show me any industry that has not. I speak with a great deal of personal experience and technical and economic backing when I assert that, basically, it is every bit as sound as Australia itself.
– I desire to make a personal explanation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, Sir. The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) said at the commencement of his remarks - amongst other things that were wrong - that I had claimed that a predecessor of mine as the honourable member for Gippsland had introduced a subsidy for the dairying industry. I did not make that claim. What I said was that a predecessor of mine had introduced what became known as the Paterson plan - the equalisation scheme that is being continued by this Bill. I went on to say that the subsidy was introduced by a Labor Government with the co-operation of the dairying industry.
Debate (on motion by Mr Courtnay) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Howson) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday 2 May at 2.30 p.m.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Social Services Bill 1967.
States Grants Bill 1967.
Mr HOWSON (Fawkner- Minister for
Air) [4.4] - I move:
Customs Tariff Proposals Nos. 9 and 10, which I have just tabled, relate to proposed amendments of the Customs Tariff 1966- 1967. Proposals No. 9, operating from tomorrow morning, contains amendments which are consequent upon the adoption by the Government of three reports by the Tariff Board. These reports relate to glass fibre, yarns, fabrics, etc., augers and bits, and drums.
I shall deal firstly with the Tariff Board’s report on glass fibre products. There are a number of local firms engaged in the manufacture of these products. The Board found that the industry overall had expanded rapidly since its last review in 1962. It is now well established in most areas and, generally, production costs have been reduced. However, local selling prices of a number of lines have been forced down through reductions in overseas prices and there are areas where the Board considers that profitability is less than satisfactory.
On glass fibre rovings the Board considered that the local industry could improve its competitive position by producing its raw materials locally.
The Board considered the industry to be worthy of continued assistance. It has recommended that the duties on glass fibre cords, cordage and braids be increased by 10% to 40% ad valorem general and 30% ad valorem preferential. The same level of assistance has been recommended by the Board for certain glass fibre fabrics at present subject to temporary duties. This represents a reduction of 5% in the combined level of the present normal and temporary duties.
On glass fibre rovings, chopped strand and chopped strand mat, the Board has recommended a specific minimum rate of 12c per pound as an alternative to the existing ad valorem rates of 30% general and 20% preferential. These rates were also recommended for sliver. The Board has suggested that the duties on rovings, chopped strand, chopped strand mat and sliver should be reviewed in three years time. The Board considered that there should be no change in the existing level of protection on other goods covered by the report, including glass fibre wool, yarns and insect screening.
Secondly, the Tariff Board has submitted its report on augers and bits. The Board found that the local industry has established efficient manufacture of a wide and generally adequate range of augers and bits. Most of the goods covered by this report are at present subject to protective duties. The Board considered these duties adequate. However, it found that a major part of the local industry has been unable to obtain a satisfactory level of profit. The Board considered that this has been due to its failure to achieve broad market penetration owing to the restriction of the area of protection.
No change is proposed, therefore, in the present protective levels of duties, but as recommended by the Board, they will apply to all products of the type made locally or which are competitive with the Australian products, some of which have been admitted until now at non-protective duties or under concessional by-laws. Accordingly, the duties on boring or drilling bits of the machine tool type are being increased from 7½% ad valorem general and free preferential to 35% ad valorem general and 27½% ad valorem preferential.
I turn now to the Tariff Board report on drums. The Board last reported on the Australian industry making drums in 1963. Since then, the principal local manufacturer has re-organised his operations and has improved his marketing in the southern States. The Tariff Board considers that the local drum industry should have good prospects of success in the medium and high priced section of the market under a reasonable level of assistance. The Board has recommended that the present duties be increased by 10% ad valorem to 40% ad valorem general tariff and 30% ad valorem preferential tariff.
The balance of the amendments in Proposals No. 9 are of an administrative nature to improve the translation from the Customs Tariff 1933-1965 to the new Tariff based on the Brussels Nomenclature which operated from 1st July 1965. Full details of all the Tariff alterations in Proposals No. 9 are contained in the Summaries of Tariff Alterations being circulated to honourable members.
Proposals No. 10, operating from 2nd May 1967, relates to domestic tableware of porcelain, china or other pottery. Temporary duties were imposed on these goods on 15th March last following the implementation of a Special Advisory Authority report. Owing to difficulties in applying at the working level the rates of duty expressed in the earlier proposal, it has been deemed advisable to express the temporary duties in the simpler method now proposed. The incidence of the temporary duty is unchanged. I commend the proposals to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Reports on Items
– I present the following reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects:
Augers and bits.
Glass fibre, yarns, fabrics, etc.
Ordered to be printed.
Debate resumed (vide page 1513).
– I could not agree more with the remarks of the last speaker in this debate, the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony), when he said that it is fair to comment but far too easy for people to sneer at the poorer sections of the dairying industry and say that the farmers are inefficient. It is quite easy to do that, but it does not help. Since the McCarthy report - the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry - the Western Australian Government arranged for a re-survey of dairying to be carried out in the far south west of Western Australia. The report following that survey said amongst other things:
The major problems identified with the industry have been the limited area of pasture, the dearth of capital for expansion, the difficulties of development arising from the nature of the environment and the low standards of farm management. At the same time it has been recognised by some that: ‘the low income farmers . . . lack the means of achieving higher efficiency, not the willingness or the capacity’.
From my own experience of the south west of Western Australia this is really the case. It is the lack of means to achieve efficiency that has been responsible, to a large degree, for the predicament in which farmers find themselves today. The State Government of Western Australia, like most of the other State governments, has not been in a position to provide the means to assist. It is mainly a question of finance. The State governments have not been in a position to salvage this industry and so it has gone into a decline. What the Minister for the Interior suggested would happen, has happened in many cases.
The Minister for the Interior drew the picture of men struggling and spending practically a lifetime clearing timber from the land but later finding that all their efforts would get them nowhere because the natural requirements of this industry, such as adequate rainfall, soil nutrition, irrigation and so on, were not available. I had to do a lot of felling myself. I recently visited the area and I now find that the very places where we laboured so hard to chop down the timber and to burn good jarrah have now been re-acquired by the State Government. Lo and behold, the Government is planting the only crop that was ever suitable for commercial development - jarrah. I agree with what the State Government is doing. I think it is the right course. But this proves that lack of efficiency, about which we hear so much, cannot always be attributed to the farmer and settler. Rather, lack of efficiency can be attributed largely to the governments which have lured men on to the land with rosy promises. The; governments have failed to carry out those promises.
Mr Speaker, a great deal has been said about statistics relating to the industry. All that has been said in this regard was said five years ago. I detect an anxiety on the part of the honourable member who proposes to move an amendment that we arc going to hear the same things again five years hence. They said that the Government has plans to rationalise the industry but that those plans have not yet been properly formulated. That statement sounds to me like an echo of something that was said five years ago and even ten years ago.
Some honourable members, particularly those belonging to the Country Party, have referred to the records of Labor governments. The charge has been made by a Country Party member that most of the troubles that now beset the New South Wales fringe areas occurred during the regime of a New South Wales Labor Government. I propose to read a report which appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 20th August 1958. I said a little while ago that I had heard these stories about the dairying industry not just five years ago but even five years before that. Under the headline ‘Dairy “Depression”. C.P. Member Blames Own Government’, the following report appeared:
A Government member of Parliament today bitterly attacked the Government’s policy on the dairying industry.
The member, Mr J. D. Anthony (CP., N.S.W.) was speaking in the House of Representatives during the Budget debate.
He said the dairying industry was in a depressed condition, but all the Government could say was that the industry was inefficient and ought to go out of butter production in N.S.W. and Queensland.
The gentleman who made that statement in 1958 is now the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony). What he said then is what the Government has been saying over the years.
– What is the date of that report?
– Wednesday, 20th August 1958.
– Look at what the Minister has done since then.
– I listened attentively to very good speeches delivered by the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) and the Minister for the Interior. They were not interrupted by the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) who, as a representative of the dairying industry, has never yet permitted an honourable member from this side of the House to present his arguments if he could prevent him. The honourable member does discredit to the industry. The newspaper report to which I have referred continued:
Mr Anthony said the Government was so concerned about public works that it was budgeting for a deficit of £110 million. This would inflate the economy and put fanners in a worse position.
Mr Anthony said the solution to the dairy problem was to increase the butter subsidy for consumers.
The butter price on the home market could no longer bc increased because it would increase sales of margarine.
I have quoted from that newspaper report merely to answer those who would say that the whole sorry mess in which the dairying industry now finds itself is the fault of Labor governments in the various States.
I have no dairy farmers in my electorate, but I have 100,000 butter consumers who, despite everything that has been said, are paying 50c per lb for butter that is worth only 25c per lb. I do not blame the dairying industry for this situation. I say that all the mess that has been occasioned has been due to neglect by this Commonwealth Government. I support the Bill because there is naught else to do. I do this because many people who have been induced to go on the land are not living at even a bare subsistence level. The survey made in Western Australia, to which I have referred, showed that a large percentage of small farmers are living on less than the basic wage. The survey, which was of 600 farmers, showed that in 1958-59 only 7% earned more than £750. This indicates that the return to farmers was generally less than the basic wage for a single adult male, and we all know how hard the farmer had to work for even that small return.
The Labor Party holds the view, and has always held it, that in the interests of the nation and from a humanitarian point of view it is high time that we made it possible for dairy farmers and their families to enjoy a decent standard of living or provided them with assistance to rehabilitate themselves in some other field of endeavour. We must recognise that many of them were induced to enter the industry by rosy promises made by governments. We must recognise also that it is utterly impossible for many of them now to pull up their roots and shift, without assistance. We have always advocated that assistance should be forthcoming to enable them to rehabilitate themselves. We advocated it five years ago. In our last policy speech we said that something must be done to rationalise the dairying industry and to rehabilitate those whose prospect is utterly hopeless.
Glowing pictures were painted this afternoon of the industry’s importance to the nation. It was claimed by some honourable members that the industry was doing this, that and the other thing. They said that since the McCarthy report was presented so much progress has been made in the industry that we could almost ignore the recommendations of that report. We cannot. Nor can the industry in a space of five years - it is only five years since the McCarthy report was presented - make the dramatic change in its economic position that it has been suggested can be made. Perhaps the industry could make a start. Perhaps it has made a start, but there is still a lot of work to be done. There will be no dramatic change. The process of improvement of the industry will be a slow one. While the industry is improving many farmers who should be rehabilitated will continue to exist at their present miserable level.
I do not suppose that any mode of life is more satisfying than working on a farm that is able to deliver the goods, particularly if a person is temperamentally suited to farming. But there can be no more miserable existence than to try to work a fringe farm only to find oneself slipping further back each year with no hope for the future. Our job is to get going and produce a plan to rehabilitate people in this situation. We have no plan in this Bill, and it does not seem likely that we will soon have one. I agree with those honourable members who have expressed support for the foreshadowed amendment that the marginal farmers may be excused for believing that five years hence they will be given the same story that they were given five years ago and even ten years ago, because this has been the pattern. That is the point that I wanted to make. I feel disappointed that the Government is merely doing the same thing as it has always done, or at least has done on the past three occasions. It is setting aside some money for a period of five years. That will satisfy a large section of the industry and particularly the more affluent section. In my view a large section of the industry is condemned to a miserable existence. It is utterly impossible for some people in the industry to do any better because the potential is not there. At the same time a very large section of the industry is affluent.
I was very interested in the speech made by the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) who spoke of a rather rosy future for the industry. It must be remembered that the honourable member represents an area where all the components for successful farming exist The soil is fertile, irrigation facilities are available and the annual rainfall is good.
– There are good farmers.
– I agree that there are good farmers in that area, and particularly around the Heyfield district. They were selected and settled on that land by a Labor government which did not make the mistake of buying poor land from its friends and selling it to them. I agree that there are good farmers in that district. They have proved themselves.
– What about their member?
– I suppose from the point of view of stating their case for them they are not badly represented. The only way in which he falls down is by giving his continual support to the Government which has not done as much as it could have done for the dairying industry. I hope that the honourable member goes away and ponders on my remarks. If he does and if he comes to a different conclusion then I will have achieved something worthwhile. But also I should like to remind the honourable member that we did not interrupt while he was speaking. That is another little fault that he has. However, I suppose he is young and will grow out of it.
The honourable member has claimed that the dairying industry is of national importance. In that respect I agree with him. I agree with his claim that it is confronted with problems. I would go so far as to say that it is beset with more problems than any other industry of which I know. Attention has been drawn to the implications of the Kennedy Round and to the implications of Great Britain’s almost certain entry into the European Common Market. It must be remembered that the market for more than 80% of our butterfat is Great Britain and that that market is in great danger. These, above all, are the reasons why we must concentrate not merely on the statistics which are heaped before us every five years but must concentrate also upon some practical measures to ensure that the industry is assisted and that the uneconomic sections of it are weeded out. I should imagine also that the more affluent farmers would want to see them weeded out because if the uneconomic sections are removed there will be so much more of the subsidy for those remaining in the industry. That is another reason why the Country Party should be putting forward propositions to assist the industry. Yet it has advanced no suggestions.
– The honourable member should have been listening.
– I thought the honourable member was about to ask what my proposition would be.
– We asked that yesterday.
– It was not asked yesterday, but my first suggestion would be to liquidate the Country Party. Then we will be able to get somewhere. I hope that Country Party supporters hear these remarks.
– How would the honourable member do that?
– I knew that I would get some agreement from the Liberal Party. I have referred to this issue coming up each five years. I propose now to refer to the leading article in the ‘West Australian’ of Tuesday, 18th April 1967. This is the type of material that we do not want to see appearing again in a newspaper. The article stated:
The Federal government’s reluctance to do anything constructive about the dairy industry is underlined by the legislation now before the parliament to extend the stabilisation scheme for another five years.
Without any firm ideas on how to upgrade the industry, the government is proposing to add another $133,000,000 to a bill that has cost the taxpayers $582,000,000 over the past 25 years.
It does so without mentioning the 1960 report in which the Commonwealth’s inquiry committee showed how dairying could be made to stand on its feet without subsidy by 1970.
This is what we have been complaining about. The industry should be able to stand on its own feet and should do so. The report continues:
After having pigeonholed the report for seven years, Primary Industry Minister Adermann is now putting forward one of its key recommendations, that high-cost and marginal butterfat producers should be helped either to make their farms profitable or to change to other lines of production.
But even now the government’s undertaking to do something about this is hedged by talk of the need to discuss it with the industry and State governments. Canberra may have been forced by the economic facts of the industry to come round to the committee’s point of view, but it is obviously reluctant to invite the political difficulties involved in pruning the industry back to the solid producers.
The question has been brought home to the public by the continuing argument over table margarine.
I remind the House that I am not introducing this subject; the point is brought up by the ‘West Australian*. The article continues:
The basic reason for this is the Commonwealth’s failure to strengthen the dairy industries ability to meet competition from a substitute for butter.
Dairying is bolstered by the subsidy, a price equalisation scheme, margarine quotas and a ban on New Zealand imports. It is time Canberra put national interest above political expediency and remoulded the industry on a better basis.
The directions have been pointed out. lt is now up to the Government to do something about it and it is up to the Country Party to exercise its influence on the Government to do this.
– What is the Opposition’s view on margarine?
– I should like to tell the honourable member that the gaming police are after the Country Party as they have caught some of its members playing two-up with a double headed ‘vote thus’ card.
– I do not want to talk at length on this Bill because it seems to me that every member on both sides of the House is in favour of it, with the exception of the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) and the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), who seem to me to be like two brave political toreadors, not waving a red cape in front of a jersey bull but waving it outside an artificial insemination laboratory. Why they should adopt this attitude towards this industry 1 do not know. I want to say at the outset that I have a personal and financial interest in this industry and I am not ashamed to say so. I think when we are speaking on a Bill we should all say whether we have a financial interest in its outcome. I am not directly interested in the industry, but I have learnt about it because one of my family is in the industry. He started in the industry with nothing and I know what it costs to begin in the dairying industry. I know also something of the cost to put in the bulkhandling equipment which is used instead of carting milk cans. I know also of the increased costs which have been loaded onto this industry as a result of the increase in wages, the increase in prices and the increase in tariffs.
Why should the primary industries be asked to carry these increasing costs when their prices are decided by world prices which have not been rising? They are asked to carry the whole of the increased costs which result from these other measures that are taken in the community. The honourable members for Bradfield and Mackellar turn around and say that the dairying industry is inefficient. Sufficient facts, figures, truths and half-truths have been produced during this debate to send any computer haywire with a lot of short circuits and I do not propose to talk except in general terms and, as I said, comparatively briefly. It does surprise me that two members in this House who have not much knowledge of primary industry but a lot of knowledge in other respects-
– A bitter break appears in the Liberal ranks.
– There has been a break in the Labor ranks, too, according to newspaper reports, so the honourable member should not talk. I cannot see why this primary industry should be expected to stand on its own feet when every other industry in Australia is subsidised either directly or indirectly. After all, Australia is not alone in providing subsidies. The British Government has subsidised agricultural industries in Great Britain far more heavily than we have subsidised our Australian industries. True it is that if Britain goes into the European Common Market we may experience difficulty in finding a market for butter, but we are already experiencing difficulty in previously stable markets for other primary products and we have had to look around and do a bit of shopping. I congratulate the Australian Dairy Produce Board or whoever it is who has been travelling in Asia and establishing reconstituted milk factories. Some troubles and difficulties have been encountered. Local conditions were not understood and there have been a few setbacks, but by and large initiative has been shown. Powdered milk, of course, is an important part of dairy sales nowadays. It is all very well for people to say that the dairy section of the primary industry is inefficient. It may have certain pastures or areas in which it is not efficient, but that is not peculiar to the dairying industry.
In this industry, as in others, the old single family or cottage industries are being pushed out by modern technology. The honourable member for Mackellar seems to possess the genes of his ancestor, the original W. C. Wentworth, who took strong exception to Victoria breaking away from New South Wales. His successor seems to have a peculiar hatred for Victoria - whether it is Tullamarine against Mascot or the Victorian dairying districts as against the northern New South Wales dairying areas. I do not know, but I hope the genes do not persist for all time because we are all Australians today and not a collection of one-Staters. Although there is in the southern parts of Australia better dairying land than in the northern parts the fact remains that one of the main troubles in this industry is the existence of one-family farms with fifty cows or so apiece. There has been the complaint that in the whole milk area some people cannot get a sufficient income. The reason is that if a person is in the whole milk area he has to milk his cows twice a day for 365 days of the year, and if he has only fifty cows he cannot afford to pay for hired labour. After about three or four years is it any wonder that such a man gives up? He cannot get away from his farm or, if he wants to get away from it, his family has to take it over, and his children become slaves. In my humble experience of this industry I should say a person needs to bc able to milk a sufficient number of cows to be able to afford to hire another married man and to house him on the farm too so that they both can live a reasonably civilised form of life and both can get away for alternate weekends if they so desire. Both in turn should be able to go for a holiday, but if he has a fifty-cow farm and is milking twice a day for 365 days a year he cannot do it. These are facts that should be looked at. The people who carry on in the dairying industry should be able to look towards a decent civilised life the same as is expected in any other industry in this country.
I do not think that many dairy farmers are inefficient. The main trouble is that their output is too low under existing conditions. Of course, it may be suggested that the price of land is too high. The honourable member for Mackellar would know more about this in Kembla, but the price of land for dairy farms has not increased any more than the price of land to other sections of the community or the price of other products. It is no good looking for scapegoats in the dairying industry. It may want reorganising, but the main factor regarding the industry is that we should stop the slavery that exists in it as a result of farms being too small and production being insufficient to provide a family with a reasonable standard of living. Too often a man’s wife and children have to work for nothing. This is the problem that has to be solved in the dairying industry. The situation is easier in the larger production areas.
In view of all the hooey that has been spoken recently about somone called Mrs Jones perhaps I might better have described the honourable members for Mackellar and Bradfield as two white knights charging down Marrickville Road in order to save Mrs Jones who is being attacked by a villain called cholesterol as a result of eating spread which has 90% animal fat. After all, the first advertisements that came out sug gested, as the Minister pointed out, that it was unwise to eat animal fat and that we should eat poly-unsaturated margarine. Now, apparently, the situation has changed and we are told to eat a new spread which, as the Minister said, is 90% animal fat. I leave it to the public to judge the truth of advertising in view of the facts put forward by the Minister.
I am glad that the Government has seen fit to continue this subsidy for a further period. One would think from the criticisms issued by the honourable members for Mackellar and Bradfield that this was the only industry, primary or secondary, in Australia that was being subsidised. After all, what about the wheat growers? The dairying industry does not have an agreed world price as does the wheat growing industry. Incidentally, I am afraid that what I said the other day about the wheat industry is going to come true. I said that we were unwise to recognise the independence of Mongolia. We have not had any contract from Peking lately. However, this has nothing to do with this Bill. The wool industry today is faced with substitutes and it is not the lucrative industry that it was. It cannot stand on its own feet as easily as it has done in the past.
On the other hand, the meat industry has improved. We must examine these industries from the overall picture and not just as one small watertight compartment. Today, for instance, in the meat industry one may get as much as $140 or $150 for a Friesian chopper cow, which is more than it costs to buy a springing heifer. I do not know whether the chopper goes into hamburgers, but this is the situation. I agree that it may be more profitable for some of the dairy farmers in the northern States and in New South Wales to turn to the production of meat or some product other than milk, butter or cheese. I am always amused to see the use made in advertising of the fashions of the medical profession, and I come from a medical family. At one time, much ill health was attributed to tonsillitis and the tonsils had to be removed. A few years later the cause was said to be appendicitis and the appendix had to be removed.
– Do not forget the slipped discs.
– Yes, and slipped discs loo. Then we were told that if we ate too much animal fat we would be affected by cholesterol. I am laughed at for taking exercise at my age, but I think the human body is the finest machine of all, if it is looked after. It would take care of many of these substances like cholesterol. Now we are being given the other side. We are being told of other medical opinions saying that the previous opinions were not right. In the meantime, much damage has been done to the dairying industry. A doctor in Melbourne not so long ago screamed about the dangers of penicillin that was used to cure some mastitis diseases in cows. This statement received a tremendous amount of publicity. But when we see how penicillin is shot into women in maternity hospitals we wonder what happens to the mother’s milk. Various fads are with us at all times and I think all of us, whether we are here in the Parliament or whether we belong to professions or industry, should be most careful in making statements in these days when the mass media of communication such as television, sometimes called the idiot box, can have a tremendous influence on the human mind. A sensible statement receives no publicity at all. But a statement such as the one about penicillin that I mentioned receives a lot of publicity. If Mrs Jones slips on a bit of butter or margarine in Marrickville, we all hear about it. I think we all should be careful not to criticise unless we are quite certain of our facts.
As other honourable members have said during this debate, the dairying industry is an important industry. It has been long established in this country. It does a lot not only in earning foreign exchange but also for the health of the community. It is very carefully policed to ensure that such diseases as tuberculosis are not present in the animals. After all, we all grew up on milk as a natural food, and I think it is a lot of nonsense to say that it is not a natural food. I cannot understand why the honourable members for Mackellar and Bradfield should try to destroy the industry by moving what might look like a harmless amendment. I wish they would restrict themselves to subjects about which they know something instead of speaking on subjects about which they know nothing.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
Mr Wentworth - Yes. I am afraid the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) has misrepresented me. He said that I had opposed the Bill. I have not opposed the Bill. He said that I had opposed subsidies. I have not opposed subsidies. All I have tried to do is to find ways and means of helping the dairying industry and the producers of butter. I think the industry is being led to perdition by people like the honourable member for Chisholm who do not always know what they are talking about.
– Periodically we have a debate of this nature in the House. We always have this type of debate, of course, when the subsidy for the dairying industry is being renewed. Some people seem to imagine that the subsidy is intended to keep the butter industry in operation. Of course, it is not intended for that purpose at all. It is to keep the dairy farmer in business. The dairy farmer probably would not be very upset if he earned his living in some other type of primary production. He is now facing the same problem that was faced sixty or seventy years ago by blacksmiths. The demand for his services and his product is decreasing. Now that we are again debating the subsidy, let us have a look at the dairying industry. In actual fact the industry is in retreat. There can be no question that this is so. The number of people engaged in dairy farming is decreasing. In my area in the last few years no fewer than 1,100 dairy farmers have gone out of production. This is a reflection of the fact that the demand for dairy products is decreasing.
It is very easy for members of the Australian Country Party to get excited about protecting the industry and trying to prevent production of margarine. The amount of margarine produced inside the territorial boundaries of Australia can be limited, but we cannot control production outside Australia. The people in the countries to which we export our products will purchase what they wish and if the demand is for margarine our overseas market for butter will be affected. This also has a tendency to depress the price. We must realise that eventually we will have a situation in which we must do something other than provide subsidies and protection. In Western Australia, as the honourable member for Darebin (Mr Courtnay) said, the State Government is taking some action in this direction. It is purchasing marginal dairy properties that no longer produce dairy products at a profit and is turning them back to forestry. I have advised some of the dairy farmers in my electorate that perhaps the best way to fight the margarine menace is to produce margarine. This has been done in parts of the United States of America. Farmers there are producing three products - butter, margarine and a product that consists of equal parts of butter and margarine. They are marketing all three products and they could not care less which one is bought. After all, the raw material from which margarine is made is a product of the land and I think the dairying industry could well afford to have a good look at its use.
The dairy man is not as strongly opposed to margarine as some members of the Australian Country Party would have us believe. I have here an article that was published in the ‘Queensland Country Life’ on 13th April - only a few days ago. Mr Baird, the Secretary of the Queensland Dairymens Organisation, is reported as having said:
The Farmers Co-operative Stores have margarine on the premises, which, in effect, puts the dairy farmer in the position of selling a product in direct competition with the product which gives him his income.
The dairy farmer is himself selling margarine. The General Manager of the United Co-operative Society in Toowoomba, Mr Swenson, said that, in his Society’s country stores, farmers are as good customers for margarine as anyone else. They have stores at Crows Nest, Clifton, Jandowae and Miles, as well as in Toowoomba. Mr Swenson said that there were few complaints and farmers generally were not opposed to using margarine. If the co-operatives stores did not stock it, they would only get it somewhere else. Some of the directors of this Society are dairy farmers.
It seems to me that the commonsense thing to do is what the blacksmiths did in earlier times. They turned their smithies into workshops to repair motor vehicles. In other words they moved with the times and stayed in business. I think the dairy farmers of this country should give a little thought to that kind of procedure. It is no use having thousands and thousands of people leaving the dairying industry, or having those who remain in it complaining all the time and looking for protection. Why not go closely into this matter? Why not launch a counterattack? If this were done we would probably see in no time at all a drought area developing in Marrickville. There is no doubt in the wide world that Marrickville could not compete with the dairy farmer if the dairy farmer used the raw materials which he himself can produce, bearing in mind that with a surprisingly small outlay he could convert part of his butter factory into a factory for the production of margarine. He could follow the lead given by certain of his colleagues in the United States who have done just this. We might then, of course, reach the stage at which this Parliament would not find it necessary to provide so much money by way of the subsidy we are now discussing.
Another question that the Government should ask itself is this: are we getting the best results by applying the entire subsidy directly to producers? Perhaps a much better result would be obtained by applying portion of the subsidy to the consumers. It must be obvious to everyone that when we have an equalisation scheme in operation under which the receipts from the home market and export markets are combined and the farmer is paid an amount arrived at under an equalising formula, if we can increase the amount of the product consumed on the home market we will place the producer in a better position. If the entire complaint is that margarine can be sold for less than butter, it might be cheaper to have the price of butter reduced by subsidy to the point at which it can be sold as the cheaper product. If we find, having done this, that margarine still holds sway, there is only one conclusion to be reached; that is that the public prefers margarine - and I have just read to the House an item from a newspaper dated as recently as the 13th of this month which states that the dairy farmers themselves are purchasing margarine.
Let us face the situation and be rational about it. Let us maintain the dairying industry in the best manner we can to protect the livelihood of the farmer, but not necessarily to keep him producing something which the public may not want. I think the people in the dairying industry should give serious consideration to this aspect of the situation and to the suggestion that they themselves might shift their production from an item which is falling in public favour to one which is increasing. Surely if there is anything produced in this country which is purely a primary product it is margarine.
– What would the dairy farmers turn to?
– To margarine production. Many American farmers have done it and they are still on the farms; they are still primary producers. As I have already pointed out to the House, in my area of central Queensland alone during the last ten years 1,100 farmers have gone out of dairy production.
– What is your own trade? What are you7
– I was a dairy farmer, for your edification. I have, of course, been rehabilitated and now I farm the farms of everybody else, exactly the same as you do, by being a member of Parliament. I think we can afford to look at this in a commonsense manner. There is no doubt in the wide world that public demand for butter has fallen. It has been pointed out to the House by many speakers in this debate that the consumption of butter per head of population is falling every year.
– The new population does not like butter.
– Perhaps not but this is only part of the problem. Whether it is a new population or an old one, the result is the same. The people are not buying butter in the quantities in which they bought it previously. They are buying margarine. This is a commodity based entirely on primary production. The farmer has gained some measure of control over practically every commodity he has produced other than those from which margarine is made. He has his marketing boards and his co-operative organisations. He handles his own wheat. He handles his own cream and manufactures his own butter. He is striving in every way he can to get control of his own meat, both for domestic consumption and for export. Yet in the case of the materials used to produce margarine he does not touch them at all. The result is that margarine is injuring his own industry. Yet he could easily go into the margarine industry.
Every single proprietary butter factory in Queensland was closed down by competition from farmer-owned co-operatives, and there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that the dairy farmers today could mete out the same treatment to margarine manufacturers if they wished to do so. After all, the margarine industry seems to be a fairly profitable one. It has been reported in this House and in the Press that the Marrickville organisation was able to spend £750,000 in a year on publicity to right the butter industry, while still showing a profit at the end of the year. No doubt the purchasers of margarine paid for all this publicity, but it is obvious that there must still be a fair amount of profit in the margarine industry. This being so, why has the possibility of dairy farmers entering the industry not been investigated by dairying organisations and by members of the Country Party who claim to represent these people? Why have they not pointed out this posibility to the people in the dairying industry? Why have they not told their dairy farmer supporters that in the United States dairy farmers have done just this and have been able to close down their margarine manufacturing opponents and bring the margarine industry into the rural area where it belongs and where the dairy farmer can manufacture margarine from the commodities which he can grow on his own farm?
– Yes, decentralisation. The darying industry could accomplish everything that it claims it would like to be able to accomplish. Why not do this instead of complaining all the time or of continuing to seek Government support for an industry which is quite obviously on the downgrade? What will be the position if
Great Britain joins the Common Market? There will be another crisis in the dairying industry. Surely it is only commonsense to look at the alternative. Margarine is not manufactured from something which is produced by magic in a city. Margarine is manufactured from primary products. Surely this is something that is in the realm of the farmer. Here is a way in which he can assist to rehabilitate his own industry. I suggest to the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon), who appears to be trying to interject, that it might be a good idea if he tried to persuade the Government which he supports to provide the finance to enable farmers to go into the production of margarine. Having been a farmer myself I am quite certain that the average dairy farmer would welcome the opportunity to get away from an activity that forces him to work for 365 days a year. He would be a lot better off producing vegetable oils and being able to get off his farm at various times. This could be an important factor in the operation of the industry. These people want to be farmers but they do not particularly want to stick to that one branch of farming which drives them as they are driven at present.
– How would he make any more money that way?
– It is not a matter of making any more money; it is a matter of continuing to make as much money as he makes now. The farmer simply wants to stay where he is and not to go broke but from the attitude of this Government that is surely how he is headed. He cannot fight the margarine interests in present conditions and he knows it. The only way he can beat them is to cut the ground from under their feet, literally and figuratively, and move into the opposition camp. As a matter of fact I have advised dairy farmers in my area to this effect. I spoke to a representative of the margarine industry recently and he said to me: 1 would like to be tipped off when? the farmers are going to come into this industry, because I can tell them now that we could not compete with them if they controlled the raw materials for their own industry.’ It is only a matter of making a move. If Country Party members are genuinely interested in maintaining the position of the dairy farmer they should at least see that this matter is investigated. We would then at least find out what is being done in the United States of America and whether or not it is successful. This is surely a contribution Country Party members should be prepared to make for the people who keep them here, and I suggest that members of that Party should investigate it.
– I have had a look, and it is no good.
– If the honourable member would go and have a look at some of the dairying properties in this country he would find that they were no good either, because they are in marginal areas. Those farmers are battling in an industry that is declining in numbers engaged and market potential. Does the honourable member call that a good thing? What sort of position does he think his dairy farmer supporters will be in when England joins the Common Market? How are they to get over that situation? If the honourable member really has the interests of the dairy farmer at heart he will investigate right now the possibility of getting the dairy farmer into alternative production that will keep him on the land and stop him from going broke.
– What is the alternative production?
– Margarine. Another thing that we need to do about the dairying industry if we are to make it efficient is to give some consideration to organising it along the lines on which the cane industry has been organised. It is not much use purchasing one marginal property and compensating the owner and turning his property over for forestry or anything else if we are going to permit another person somewhere else to enter the industry and to be put into the same situation. In the cane industry the producer is protected by assignments. It is not impossible - and surely it is not beyond the organisational ability of the primary industries - to organise the dairying industry along these lines. The milk producers organise along such lines now for the simple reason that they need this protection.
There are many other industries in the primary field in exactly the same position. When the people in those industries are prosperous, and when there appears to be an unlimited market, everybody goes in for those industries. However, when the market falls for some reason or other - usually due to costs or to the fact that those who purchased the products for export purposes no longer require them - we get whole areas where the farmers have to go out of production. That applies to the pineapple industry, and we must not forget that it could apply also to the meat industry. If we are to consider this matter on a commonsense basis we should give some consideration to controlled production. As a matter of fact, this would immediately put a lot of money into the pockets of the dairy farmers from the capitalisation point of view. As with taxi plates, while the availability of plates is limited, a plate is worth more than the taxi itself. If the supply of plates was unlimited, a plate would not be worth 15c. If the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) organised the dairy industry along the lines of assigned production, he would automatically increase the value of the dairy farmer’s property, and he would be doing something else for the benefit of the people he claims to represent. We come back to the point that we are asked to prove - and we very willingly do so - this S27m each year to sustain and assist the dairying industry. However. I seriously suggest, Mr Deputy Speaker, that we should not simply do this and then wash our hands of the whole business and say: ‘We have given them $27m; that is going to keep them in affluence over the rest of the life of the industry’. This is nonsense. If we are really interested in these people we should take steps to find out by what other means we can assist them. How can we make them more prosperous? How can we make them more secure in the industry in which they operate? All these angles should be looked at. Is it feasible that they could manufacture margarine? There is no question about the rising market for this product and. of course, if the farmer was in this business there would not be any question about quotas, either.
At one time we used to be told that the evil in the manufacture of margarine was the fact that it was manufactured from oil produced in cheap labour areas, that it came from New Guinea or the Solomon Islands or some other place where allegedly people were being employed at about 50c a month to produce it, and that certain people were importing it here for the purpose of manufacturing margarine and were under-selling the butter manufacturer. Probably that was true then, but it is not true today. All the raw material that is required for the manufacture of margarine can be produced and is produced in this country, and it all comes from the land. There seems to me to be no reason at all why this question should not be investigated. There seems to be no reason why we should not have members of the Country Party asking the Government to find out what happens in other parts of the world where farmers produce margarine as a manufactured item, nor does there seem to be any reason why the Government should not be induced to provide the money to do the partial conversion that would be necessary in butter factories to enable them to produce this commodity. At least the industry should be consulted on it, and at least some effort should be made to find out what those in the industry think and whether they are prepared to do this. I do not doubt that we would find that many sections of the dairying industry were very interested in the possibilities. It would no longer be a matter of simply trying to have some restriction placed on those who today compete with them. The normal thing today is to carry the war into your enemy’s territory if possible, not just sit back and lose farm after farm and producer after producer, either because farmers are leaving the industry altogether or are being forced to go into some other type of production.
We are told today that many of these small unprofitable dairy farms should be amalgamated. We can amalgamate the properties, but we cannot very well amalgamate the owners. If three or four dairy farms are to be amalgamated into an economic producing proposition, derelict properties will result. This is happening in central Queensland, where on farm after farm one can see a derelict house or the remains of what was once a house. We find that two, three, four and even five properties have been purchased by one owner and turned over to beef production. Where have the farmers gone? We find them working on the wharves, in meat works or aluminium works, or working for the councils on the roads. Those people were unable to remain in the industry, yet apparently Country Party members allow this to go by without comment. It is quite obvious that the opportunity is there to do something about it. Why does the Country Party not have an inquiry?
Why does it not ask the Government to appoint a parliamentary committee to investigate the industry? Such a committee could not do any harm and it might come up with a solution or several solutions.
Surely the Country Party could be expected to take the initiative in this. If it does not, then perhaps we on this side will do so, and we will then see how Country Party members vote on it. If the Country Party were to stick with us, we would be able to have the committee appointed. Surely it would be worth while to give a little consideration to this question. If Country Party members genuinely feel for the farmer and are convinced that he is being pressured and that his livelihood is being taken away from him, they should do something about it. It is not sufficient merely to sit here term after term and vote for a subsidy and then forget about it. We should do something to keep the farmer where he is if he wants to remain there. We should assist to put him into a position where he can really fight the margarine interests if he wants to do so. If Country Party members want him to do this, the power to enable him to do so is in their hands. If the Country Party does not do something about this matter, the only thing we can assume and the only thing the dairy farmer can assume is that that Party is not interested.
– Much bitterness has been engendered in this debate and my main purpose in speaking is to pour oil on troubled waters and to try to bring some sanity into the debate. It would appear to me that those who have already spoken agree that something should be done for the dairying industry. I think that even members of the Country Party will agree that, in view of the position in which for various reasons dairy farmers find themselves, something must be done. I am sure that it is the desire of all honourable members that the lot of the dairy farmer be improved either by re-establishment or by research to determine what crops he can turn to as an alternative.
Having been closely associated with the dairying industry for many years, I appreciate the great difficulties and hardships that the people on the north coast of New South Wales have endured over the years, and for that reason I desire to make some contribution to the debate. Foolish statements have been made by members on both sides of the House, but I think all honourable members realise that something must be done. It is most important that the subsidy continue for some time - the Bill provides that it is to continue for five years - but the time has arrived to tackle the difficulties that will beset the industry progressively from now on.
The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) desires that something be done forthwith and has foreshadowed an amendment aimed at bringing about a realisation of the urgency for doing something for the dairying industry. He is not opposed to assistance being given, but rather desires that something be done for people living in adverse circumstances and under very difficult conditions. I would like to see the Colombo Plan used to assist the countries that the plan covers to import more of our dairy products. The sale of most foods is governed by taste and if a desire and taste for butter can be created in Asian countries much will be achieved. Nutritious foods are essential in the countries of South East Asia and in India, and if we can create a desire for dairy products in these countries we will open up a vast potential market.
The honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) mentioned the foolish statements made over the years about butter being detrimental to health. It is unfortunate that such statements have been made without any proper research having been carried out, because they have done the industry a great deal of harm, lt now appears that butter has no detrimental effect on health but the allegations have done a great disservice to the industry. In countries where butter is not used, the rate of growth of children and the health of the people generally are markedly lower than in countries where butter is used. For this reason, it would be a wonderful thing if Colombo Plan funds could be used to enable the countries I have mentioned to obtain this most nutritious food.
As I said when I rose, my main purpose in speaking is to endeavour to get rid of the bitterness that has been engendered in this debate and to correct some of the foolish statements made. It is most apparent that the subsidy must continue, but a definite stand must be taken and an effort made to adjust the industry so that eventually the subsidy will not be required. The honourable member for Capricornia (Mr Gray) obviously has given a great deal of thought to this matter. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that farms now being used for dairying and its offshoot, pig farming, could produce crops providing oil for use in the manufacture of margarine.
I commend the Bill, and I hope that the industry and the Government will forthwith do those things which are necessary to rehabilitate dairy farmers who are not economically successful and are living a life of drudgery. I trust that at the end of the five-year period it will not be necessary to extend the payment of the subsidy.
– I listened with great interest to the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin). I was pleased to hear him make some attempt to create goodwill in the House. Since I first came to this place I have advocated that we should attack policies, not personalities. Many speakers have asked: ‘What is the Country Party doing?’ Do those speakers realise that Country Party members represent rural constituencies? We do not represent any city constituencies. When matters come up affecting primary producers we have a bloc vote. There is no other party in the same position. Other parties have members from both city and country areas.
There are no decisions made in this House; the decisions are made in the party rooms. It does not matter whether the Labor Party or the Liberal-Country Party coalition is in office; the decisions are made in the party rooms. Not so very long ago the Parliament was discussing an amendment concerning pensions. At the time I met a lady in a train who said: T have been very interested in that debate on the pensions. When will a vote be taken?’ I said: ‘About 5.45 next Tuesday’. This happened on a Friday. She said: ‘How will the vote go?’ She was quite excited. I said: ‘How will it go? It has already gone.’ The point is that the decision had been made previously in the party rooms. The Country Party is strong because it has a bloc vote. Scenes such as happened last night, when honourable members wim city interests were fighting against members with country interests, although they belonged to Che same party, do not happen in the Country Party.
I want to say one or two things about subsidies. Why do we subsidise primary industries? If there were no protection for special interests and if all people fought for themselves and tariffs were eliminated, primary producers and those in secondary industries alike, we would not require subsidies or stabilisation plans. But in Australia prices have risen quite a lot over the last twenty-five years. They were rising when this present Government came to office. It is on record that Mr Chifley said just prior to the 1949 election that there had been inflation during the previous two or three years. Why do we want subsidies? As has been said so often - this has to be said continually although little new comes out of the arena - we require subsidies simply because, if there is an increase in the cost of manufacture of boots, shoes or anything else - a tractor, a motor car, even a ball of binder twine - the manufacturers or retailers simply change the price tag. They put the prices up. Honourable members know that today goods cost much more than they did four years ago. But the wheat grower, the dried fruit grower and other primary producers can pass on only a certain amount of the increased costs of production. They can do so only if they are stabilised. The wheat grower, the dried fruit grower and the dairy farmer receive the Australian price for a certain amount of their products; but if those farmers have a lot of export goods, if much of their wheat, butter and other milk products is sent overseas, then that is, in most cases, the end of the line of protection. They are stabilised chiefly only for the produce they sell inside Australia, but wheat growers have a guaranteed price for export sales up to 150 million bushels. Above that amount the wheat growers have to take overseas values.
There has been a lot of talk about matters which are not covered by this legislation at all. I want to say one or two things relating directly to the Bill.
Firstly, the dairying industry must be subsidised if it is going to live. The honourable member for Capricornia (Mr Gray) suggested that if dairy farmers went into the manufacture of margarine everything would be all right. I think that is a fantastic idea. If the marginal dairy farmers went in for something like that it would sound the death knell of the very efficient dairying industry in Victoria and other favourable areas of Australia. People who live in dairying districts know quite well that the residents of towns - and perhaps provincial cities to a lesser extent - depend for the stability of their businesses and future prospects on the products of the surrounding farmlands and the prices paid for them. Therefore the Government’s action in paying subsidies is not just to give dairy farmers an easy time and plenty of money. The dairyfarmers are merely the vehicles through which this money passes to country towns and to people all over Australia. The money paid in subsidies is not being wasted. Subsidies are generally a very satisfactory financial undertaking. Dairy farmers spend their money in the towns. To an extent this brings about decentralisation.
It has been foreshadowed that the hon.hourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) will move an amendment. I understand he will be supported by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner). They will probably get support. I understand that the honourable member for Mackellar will suggest that we need only to extend stabilisation for another year from 1st July. If this is done it will immediately cause the dairying industry to lose confidence. Any honourable member who has been associated with dairy farmers or with country life will be well aware that at the very minimum a dairy farmer has to plan three years ahead. Me has to plan ahead to determine when his cows will come in. I do not know why this period of twelve months has been suggested. I will bt against any such amendment if it is brought before the House. After all, what would the amendment be designed to do? From what I have heard, I understand it is suggested that if we extend the stabilisation plan for twelve months only, in the meantime attempts will be made to move the marginal dairy farmers to more productive areas. I understand that is what the foreshadowed amendment means. But why cannot the Government, or the people advocating this idea, do what they desire concerning marginal producers but at the same time continue the subsidy for five years? If the subsidy is continued only for one year dairy farmers will lose confidence and production will cease to rise. In fact, it will fall dramatically because dairy farmers depend very largely on this subsidy of S27m a year.
Some people ask: ‘What is the Country Party policy concerning these marginal areas?’ Honourable members in this corner of the House have made it very clear. But so that there will be nothing left to chance I will read a telegram that I have received. It is from the Chief President of the Country Party in Victoria. Early in March the Country Party held a conference in that State. The Press said that 1,000 primary producers attended. The telegram states:
Please inform Party in final stages of conference delegates unanimously adopted resolution strongly opposing suggested amendments to reduce period of dairy stabilisation plan from five years to one.
That is the Country Party policy. It has been made perfectly clear by the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) and other honourable members who have spoken on behalf of the Country Party. This is the policy for which the Country Party stands. Most members of the Labor Party seem to be supporting this Bill. Some appear to be lukewarm about it. Others are enthusiastically in favour of it. But the question is: What does the dairy farmer think about it? The Country Party has said for a long time that if an industry wants to be stabilised the people engaged in it must get together and work out a scheme. The Department of Primary Industry will assist them. Then the scheme can be put to the Government for its acceptance.
What does the dairy farmer think about all this? Does he want to be pushed off his farm somewhere in Queensland, or is he satisfied to stay there? Perhaps he is a family man with relations in the area. Some people would say that because a farmer is in a marginal area he should get off his farm. One honourable member said that last night. I was interested in that speech. I have never heard or read of a dairy farmer in what is described as a marginal area asking the Government to assist him to get off his farm.
I represent the electorate of Mallee. About forty years ago there was a great cry throughout Victoria: ‘Is the Mallee worth saving?’ In the Mallee at that time there were marginal areas for wheat. There are still marginal areas for wheat in the Mallee, but many wheat areas that were marginal thirty years ago are now highly productive wheat areas or grazing areas because Australia, and particularly Victoria, has had a run of very good seasons. The ground has consolidated and wheat farms that were once worth very little would today bring high prices if put on the market.
Let us look further at what are described as marginal areas. Is every dairy farmer in a marginal area on the brink of bankruptcy? Honourable members should be aware that many people who are described as small dairy farmers carry on dairying in conjunction with mixed farming. What would honourable members do about them, remembering that we cannot do anything by force? If a dairy farmer wants to move to what he thinks is better farming land and applies to the Government for assistance, his application should be considered, but we cannot attempt to move all the farmers out of a marginal area; some of them may be happy to stay there.
The subsidy is paid on production and so should be an incentive to greater production. I am aware that the very efficient dairy farmers in Victoria, with their good holdings, get a big share of the subsidy. If a man is farming in a marginal area and does not produce much, he does not get much subsidy. The Government is always open to suggestions about the payment of the subsidy. In his second reading speech the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) said:
The Government has agreed in principle to assisting the industry -with respect to the problem of the marginal dairy farmer but the ways in which this help can be most effectively be given have yet to be worked out.
I have not yet heard an honourable member advance a logical argument for taking men off farms in marginal areas. If a practical proposition were submitted I am sure that the Government would consider it.
I do not want to become involved in an argument about margarine, but it is not practical to suggest that farmers in marginal areas should go in for the production of seed oil for the manufacture of margarine. This suggestion was put forward by a member of the Labor Party who did not have even the support of his Party because the proposition is too fantastic to work.
It is well known, but worth repeating occasionally, that the present stabilisation scheme will expire on 30th June next. We say that it should be extended for a further five years. With the exception of the honourable member for Mackellar and the honourable member for Bradfield, who have suggested extending the scheme for only one year, there is general agreement about extending it for five years. To extend the scheme for only one year would not be practical. Why do people make such suggestions? I have the best of good feeling towards the honourable member foi Mackellar and the honourable member for Bradfield but I cannot understand their reasons for advancing such a proposition. If the scheme were extended for only one year would the honourable members agree at the expiration of that one year to extend the scheme for a further four years, because they have said that they would see how things worked out and that they might agree to voting more money for subsidy at the end of the first year? What they propose would cause only chaos. Australians are divided into two classes - city dwellers and country dwellers. The man living in a nice suburb of Sydney or Melbourne has no idea of the conditions under which dairy farmers live. The upbringing of the two classes is totally different. On many occasions the dairy farmer has had a lean time, but one thing he does not know is when to give up. He has always tried to keep going. I believe that the Government has no right to interfere with the dairy farmer at the present time unless somebody has the genius to devise a scheme that is acceptable to all parties.
The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) spoke bitterly about the Minister for Primary Industry. Wherever I have travelled I have met people who regard Charles Adermann, the Minister for Primary Industry, as a man of great character and good reputation. Reputation is only what people think of you; character is what you are. We in the Country Party know Charles Adermann to be a man of great character. 1 regret that he is not present this afternoon. Mrs Adermann has been taken ill and the Minister has returned to Queensland. Before he left the House he told ms that he regretted that he was not able to see this legislation passed through the House, but it was imperative that he return home. Attacks on a man like Charlie Adermann carry no weight with me or, I suspect, with most honourable members. I have been in the Parliament for twentyone years. The Minister has been here a little longer. Never in that time has he said or done anything that would make us less proud of him.
The Country Party believes that a stabilisation plan for the dairying industry for a further five years is necessary. To operate the plan for only one year would cause dairy farmers to lose confidence and to wonder what might happen at the end of that one year. They would wonder whether they should carry on farming or cease production while waiting to see what happened at the end of twelve months. I do not know what the honourable member for Mackellar or the honourable member for Bradfield would do at the end of twelve months. Would they then suggest continuing the subsidy for a further four years or would they suggest quietly discontinuing the subsidy? I think it was the honourable member for Mackellar who said that by granting the subsidy the Government is giving dairy farmers a blank cheque. This is no blank cheque. The Government is providing money that will be distributed as a subsidy to Australia’s fourth best industry. Australia depends not only largely but vitally on its primary industries, especially export industries such as the dairying industry. Without the export incomes earned by the wool, wheat, dried fruits and dairying industries our secondary industries would be in a difficult situation, because Australia is not able to produce all of the raw materials required by secondary industries. The overseas income earned by our primary industries improves our balance of payments position and enables us to buy the raw materials needed by our secondary industries. Some people may not like primary production or dairy farming. Others may not like secondary industries. But secondary industry always has the advantage. Nevertheless, we must not forget that all of Australia is dependent on primary industry if we are to continue to function in a state of financial stability, enabling our people to live well.
– I do not want to delay the House unduly, but there is one aspect in the whole of this debate which needs special emphasis. We have heard of the woes of the dairy industry and we have heard suggestions as to how they can be corrected, but precious little has been said about the woes and financial tribulations of the consumer, the Australian housewife, who after all has to make a major contribution to the financial success of this industry. It has always occurred to me, ever since the Paterson bounty scheme was introduced in about 1928, that perhaps there is another alternative to the whole matter. It is a very simple one.
We are greatly indebted to the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) for the figures he cited, which have not been contradicted during this debate and from which all members of his own Party and the Australian Country Party have shied as though they were the plague. I refer to the actual returns. These figures are worth quoting for the information of the Australian public who did not have the opportunity to hear what the honourable member said last night. His statement was that in Australia we are paying a retail price of 52c per lb for butter. In New Zealand they are paying 25c, plus a subsidy of 15c, which brings the price to 40c. One of the most remarkable features of the whole debate is that no-one mentioned pre-war consumption of butter in Australia when the price was near the 40d mark. These figures prove a definite relationship between price and consumption of butter. I know that there have been other factors such as dieting fads, and in a very limited number of ways there are probably people who need a butter substitute, but in the main the real point of it all is the crazy financial set-up so far as the retailing of butter is concerned and the price which the consumer has to pay.
We find in Australia today that because, perhaps, 55% or 60% of the butter is consumed here a retail price of 52c per lb must be paid so that the rest of it can be dumped in Britain. The return from the current United Kingdom price is 23c per lb. The average price - this is the weighted average - is 31.2c per lb. To that, of course, the bounty adds another 5c. Would it not be within the realms of possibility for a reduction to be made in the price of butter in Australia? There is not the slightest doubt that the price of butter could be reduced by 6c to 8c per lb. This is well worth trying. In any event, it is a situation which will have to be faced when Britain goes into the European Common Market. The people of Australia are being deliberately deprived of a very healthy food. They are being forced to accept an alternative.
I am not going into the merits of the various products, but it is very significant that the price of margarine has followed up the price of butter. I believe that it has been the consumer in Australia who has been given the rawest deal of all. He is the one between the upper and the nether millstone. He has had scant consideration in the whole of this crazy setup. There is nothing so crass in obstinacy to the average dairy farmer as any suggestion of an alteration in the economics of his industry. But an alteration must come. The loss on export at the present time is 17c per lb and it is precisely that amount which has to be made up. If there were true equalisation and the price of butter were somewhere of the order of 45c per lb we would see a remarkable increase in consumption in Australia. That is an alternative remedy well worth trying, but one that we will never get from the present Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Section S of the Dairying Industry Act 1962- 1966 is amended by omitting from sub-section (2.) the word “sixty-seven” and inserting in its stead the word “seventy-two”.
– I move:
Omit ‘seventy-two’, insert ‘sixty-eight’.
The effect of this amendment is to reduce the commitment for this subsidy from a five year term to a one year term. It is not intended by this amendment to terminate the subsidy at the end of one year, nor indeed is it meant that the industry could be re-organised in one year. What is meant, however, is to ask the Committee to return to the practice which always stood until 1962, under which the industry was reviewed annually. I am asking that we revert to the position before 1962 because what has happened since then shows how disastrous the change was and how disastrous it was for the House to write a cheque for five years, to give up parliamentary authority, to turn it over to the Executive and to put it into the hands of an Executive which has, during those five years, violated its programme of doing something to help the industry and has led the industry near to the edge of disaster.
The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) was speaking a moment ago about the difference between the country member and the city member. This is not the real difference. Every honourable member wants to help the dairy industry and wants to help those engaged in it. But those of us who perhaps are able to look at this without the bias of vested interest, who are able to look at it from the point of view of really helping these men and who are not trying to gain political advantage, can see that the dairy industry has been misled to its own disadvantage by the people who profess to lead.
– It does not think so.
– I am told that the industry does not think so. That may well be because, unfortunately, the mislea’ders of the dairy farmers are very well placed, very strategically placed and very persuasive, and although they talk nonsense they talk it in terms of money or milk. What I am saying is that when the Parliament in 1962 changed this practice of voting on the industry only from year to year, it did so on the assumption that the Government would start to put the dairy industry’s house in order for the benefit of the dairy farmers. The Government has wasted those five years because its policies did not come back to the House for review and, very largely, because its policies were determined by the small pressure group which is leading the dairy industry to destruction. I am speaking as one who wants the dairy farmer to have a high standard of living, as one who fs shocked by the marginal misery which is caused on the north coast of New South Wales, as one who is terrified of the implications of the European Common Market and what it may mean to a dairy industry which has failed to adjust.
The Committee knows, because it was stated by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) in his second reading speech, that the Government has no plan yet. The Government knows, and has said so, and the Minister has said in his second reading speech, that great re-adjustment is needed and that the Government means to do something about it. But the Government has no plan. This is what the Minister said in his second reading speech. When the Minister has produced a plan and when the details are before us I suggest that we might be able to think in terms of guaranteeing for a longer period and of giving the Government a longer time before it need come back to the Parliament to give some account of its stewardship and some account of the way in which it has helped the dairy industry. I know honourable members who look first to their seats and not to their constituents. The real interests of the dairying industry can be best served by those who have no vested interest in keeping up the existing wrongful structure of production. I know it has been said that the dairying industry is inefficient in the sense that individual dairy farmers are inefficient. Individual dairy farmers work very hard and well, but the overall structure of the industry is inefficient and last night I gave my reasons for believing this to be so.
I know what the political pressures are and I fear that if the Government is given this five-year period without recourse to the Parliament it will simply waste the next five years as it has wasted the last five years. I say this in the interests primarily of the dairy farmer because he suffers from those things that members of the Country Party said he suffered from. He does work long hours; he works hard and he secures small remuneration. But this is not the real point. The real point is that production is going up under the unwholesome stimulus that is being given. The surplus to be disposed of is increasing and the opportunity for disposing of it may contract disastrously.
As I have said, it is even money that Britain will go into the European Common Market within the next three years. It is not a certainty but it is a good even money bet. I ask honourable members to think what will happen if Britain goes into the Common Market. The last time negotiations were being foreshadowed Britain said she would make special efforts to protect at least the New Zealand dairy farmers. She is no longer saying this, and if Britain goes into the Common Market she will go in under terms which will mean that the Australian export opportunities for butter will be cut off as with a butter knife. The surplus will become unsaleable and undisposable and will eddy around in a whirlpool to which the New Zealand surplus, similarly undisposable. will also contribute. To have led the dairying industry to the edge of this precipice is an act of crowning folly. In the last fifteen v years the level of production of butter has risen from 175,000 tons a year to 205,000 tons last year and it looks like reaching 220,000 tons this year, with further heights ahead. This may seem good for individual farmers who would want more production but I urge my friends in the Country Party to remember that they are putting the collective farmer in the position where he stands an even money chance of having an undisposable surplus which will bring ruin to him and to the whole industry. It is not a prudent thing that we have done, because we do not control the decision of the British Parliament as to whether or not Britain will go into the Common Market. I do not say it will, but I say that any prudent man would regard it as an even money chance that Britain will enter the Common Market within the next three years.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– The amendment moved by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) proposes to alter the provisions of the Bill, which makes a total of $135m available over the next five years to the dairying industry at the rate of $27m a year. If the amendment is carried, at the end of the first year there would need to be a review of the financial assistance being given to the dairying industry. The amount then decided upon could be less than $27m, more than $27m or it could be just $27m. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) stated quite clearly in his second reading speech that the Government is taking positive steps to rehabilitate the problem dairy farms and the problem areas. But in essence the honourable member for Mackellar does not believe the Minister, the Government he supports and the members of his own party.
Here we have the remarkable spectacle of a prominent member of the Liberal Party condemning his own Government and his own party. The truth of the matter is that he does not believe his Government when it says that it will take positive steps to rehabilitate the dairying industry. In the past two days we have seen members of the Liberal Party and members of the Australian Country Party fighting each other over this Bill. This does not mean that the Australian Labor Party trusts the Government either. Seven years ago the Committee appointed by the Government to inquire into the dairying industry made certain recommendations. What has the Commonwealth Government done in the last seven years to meet the needs of the problem areas? One can certainly point to the Farm Development Loan Fund, but the Government knows full well how difficult it is for farmers in the marginal areas of dairy production to obtain credit.
We have given considerable thought to the amendment. The most important aspect to consider is its practicality. If it is accepted the position of the dairying industry will be reviewed at the end of the first year. As I said before, there will be no guarantee that after the first year the dairying industry will receive $27m a year. The amount may be halved, more than halved or it may be increased. The dairying industry would be plagued with uncertainty. One of the main reasons why the dairy stabilisation plan introduced in 1962 was not a complete success was that there was no certainty from year to year as to the amount of assistance that would be given. In fact, the amount of $27m was provided each year, but there was no certainty in advance that this would be the amount. I think it is clear that people on the dairy farms that are in financial difficulties will have uncertainty hanging over their heads. They will not know what will happen in the next financial year or how much they will get.
In my electorate, as in other electorates, we are experiencing a serious drought. These areas must be given some consideration. It would be wrong to say to the people with dairy farms in the drought areas: ‘You will have help at the rate of $27m for only one more year. At the end of that year we will negotiate to determine how much you will get*. These are the areas that face pasture problems, serious nutritional problems and serious water problems. Obviously one factor that will help the dairying industry is stability, and stability is measured not only in terms of finance but also in terms of time. The Opposition believes that the uncertainty of not knowing what will happen after the first year should not be foisted on the dairying industry at this stage, especially as the Government has said that it will take positive steps to rehabilitate the industry. It is unfortunate that the Government has not seen fit to tell the House how it intends to do this. Perhaps if its plans were explained the honourable members for Mackellar and Bradfield (Mr Turner) would be satisfied. However, the Government has not done that. Obviously, there will be major problems in any plan the Government may have and these will be not only technological problems but also problems arising from Commonwealth and State relations if a plan for the voluntary amalgamation of farms or for some other means of rehabilitation is implemented.
Now that the Government has decided at last to take positive steps to rehabilitate the problem areas, we believe that the industry must be given a chance. It must have stability of income and this will be guaranteed to it under the Bill as it stands for the next five years. We hope that in the next five years we will see a marked improvement in the productivity of the problem areas and in the rehabilitation of the dairying industry. It is a great industry; it is a great Australian industry.
– May I at the outset correct two figures that I erroneously gave to the House in the course of this debate. I referred to the price of Australian butter in the United Kingdom as 33c per lb Australian, retail. In fact this was 3s 3d sterling, which, converted into Australian currency, is 40.6c. The figure I gave as the price of butter in New Zealand should be corrected to 35.4c Australian. Again I omitted to convert from New Zealand to Australian currency. I should like also to correct my friend, the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate), who did not know that the consumer subsidy in New Zealand was withdrawn in January of this year.
I support the amendment that has been moved by my friend, the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). I do so because I believe that it is absolutely vital that the Parliament should have before it the whole plan for the rehabilitation of the dairying industry. At present we have part of a plan - that is, the continuation of the subsidy. But we have not had the second part, which is perhaps an even more important part of the plan, and that is an explanation of what the Government proposes to do to deal with the marginal producers. This second part may not necessarily come before the Parliament at all, because it could be the subject of agreement between the Commonwealth and State governments. Such agreements do not normally come before the Parliament. It could be very largely implemented through the banks, and again this would not necessarily come before the Parliament. Both the honourable member for Mackellar and I, therefore, insist that the Parliament is entitled to see the total plan and not a part of a plan. This is the more important because, when we come to look at the total plan, the part of the plan that has been given to us, involving the continuation of the present subsidy, might have to be modified.
Seven years ago, in 1960, the Government apparently believed that the dairying industry should be reconstructed because it commissioned an inquiry to go into this very matter. The McCarthy Committee came up with a report which has been extensively quoted in the course of the debates on this Bill. The Government evidently entertained this belief seven years ago. If this was something that appeared desirable to the Government then, it is doubly important now, as has been argued in the course of the earlier debate on the Bill, because there are threats to the dairying industry that are now even more apparent than they were at that time.
So the whole matter comes down to a question of reconstruction. If we are right in our speculations about Britain’s entry into the Common Market, our probable failure to obtain any advantages from the Kennedy Round, the situation in which New Zealand is likely to find itself placed - as well as Australia - and the necessity for Australia then to do something about New Zealand and the catastrophe that might overwhelm her, then all these things point to the inevitability of reconstruction. We missed our opportunity back in 1960; are we going to miss it again when we now have a second chance?
The basic principle of the proposals for reconstruction that were urged by the McCarthy Committee was that the subsidy, which it is now proposed to continue unabated for the next five years, was to diminish year by year and that as it diminished funds would be provided for reconstruction - that is, to deal with the marginal producers. Any process of reconstruction involves the expenditure of money, and there is always a shortage of money. Whence is it to come? The McCarthy Committee took the view that the method of making subsidy payments to all producers of butterfat simply at some fixed amount per lb provided even greater benefits for the relatively well off producers than for the marginal producers. This is quite evident. The more butterfat a man produces the greater the subsidy he will be paid. Yet it is the man producing the large amount of butterfat, or butter, who least needs the subsidy. So the principle behind the McCarthy Committee’s recommendations was perfectly simple: why not deny the subsidy to those who do not need it in order that it can be used for those who do?
To those honourable members who are trying to interject I simply say that if tons of money are available to us it does not really matter; there is no need to take the subsidy away from those people who are better off. But if money is not so plentiful what do we do? Do we take it out of a hat? Do we tax the people? The method I am suggesting will provide a source of money, and the money is going to be required in order to do two things with regard to marginal producers. The consolidation of holdings is, of course, part of the necessary policy. Another part, I believe, is the conversion of some of this farm land to other uses. I have mentioned, for example, afforestation, and I have quoted pretty good authority. Another honourable member on the other side of the House suggested this afternoon that some of this farm land could be used for producing oil seeds to be converted into margarine. It seems obvious that there are two things we have to do; we have to consolidate holdings and at the same time convert some of the present marginal dairying land to some other use. These are the obvious requirements if we look at the total situation which emerges.
To do these things we will need money. Whence is it to come? What is the point of providing a substantial subsidy for people in the better areas and failing to provide money for the purpose that so obviously must receive the attention of the Government, that is of dealing with the marginal producers - and dealing with them generously. The honourable member for Mackellar and I appear in the guise of Robin Hoods who want to take from the rich to give to the poor, to take from the dairy producers who do not want the subsidy, or do not need it, in order to do something about the marginal producers who do, and who may have to be paid to leave their land or have their land converted to some other use.
There is nothing foolish about this. The whole logic of the situation points to it. Therefore we want the present subsidies to continue for twelve months for the sole purpose of enabling the Government to have a look at the total scheme. Nobody suggests that the subsidy should continue for one year only and then never more. What happens after the twelve months will depend on what scheme the Government can work out. Of course it should have been worked out long since. The Government has had five years in which it has known that something would have to be done about the subsidy, but it has not worked out a scheme. It is the Government’s fault, not ours, and if, as the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) tells us. our proposal will create uncertainty in the dairying industry, there is nobody to blame but the Government. No blame can be attached to the honourable member for Mackellar or to me. All we say is: ‘Let us give the Government another twelve months’. Tt has had five years that it could have used and that it has not used. The fault is the Government’s not ours. Surely the Parliament should say: ‘Let us look at the total scheme’. The total scheme may involve a resealing of the bounty, but certainly it should embody concrete plans that can be put before this House for dealing with marginal producers, either by consolidating holdings in some cases or by converting marginal farms to some other use, whether afforestation or something else.
I do not say that these dairy farmers are inefficient in any moral sense of the word. They have the misfortune to be on holdings that are too small, or they are in areas where there is not enough water or where the proper pastures cannot be grown, or they are too far from a market, or perhaps there is some other reason why they have been referred to as inefficient. But I want it plainly understood that when I refer to inefficiency I do not imply any moral obliquity on their part or any lack of diligence or any lack of capacity to look after the holdings they now have. They are simply victims of misfortune and we seek to help these people to overcome their misfortune. For that reason we think the Government should have another twelve months to allow it to come up with a total scheme involving the resealing of the subsidy and some concrete plan to do the things which so obviously will have to be done to help the industry.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to oppose the proposition put before the Committee by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) and supported by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner). What they have said in this Committee shows very little appreciation of the debate that took place a little earlier on the motion for the second reading of the Bill. If anything, they have slightly shifted their premises from those of the proposal that they foreshadowed earlier, but in submitting the proposal they have not given any worthwhile evidence in support of it.
I want to say at the. outset that any proposal to limit the period of time for the payment of subsidy to those in the dairying industry would destroy at once all confidence in the industry. This would do more to damage the welfare and wellbeing of the industry than anything else that could happen. It amazes me that these two honourable members should fail to recognise what the Government which they support has done during the past six or seven years. This has been referred to in the earlier debate and I am not going to recount it. It is all on record in Hansard. What these two honourable members have done - and I refer particularly to the honourable member for Mackellar - has been to attack the dairying industry and to refer in quite damaging terms to its leaders. The words ‘vested interests’ were used. The word ‘political’ was tacked on. This kind of criticism has no merit at all. But these two honourable members have gone further. They have referred to what was said by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) speaking for the Opposition. This would make very interesting reading and perhaps it is interesting to dairy farmers in western Victoria who may be listening in to this debate tonight.
– I hope the dairy farmers on the New South Wales north coast are listening, too.
– The honourable member for Bradfield has mentioned the north coast. I want again to draw attention to the fact that as a member representing an electorate within the Sydney milk zone he has totally failed at any stage to make a clear reference to the implications of the operation of the Sydney milk zone. My colleague from Gippsland (Mr Nixon) earlier today spoke of the imposition of the Sydney milk zone, introduced by the Labor Party, and of course there now is a difficult problem to be solved.
Very briefly, the position is that the Sydney milk zone, which accounts for a large proportion of the total production of the dairying industry in Australia and a very substantial proportion of the New South Wales production, of course, is getting a dual benefit. The consumers of milk in Sydney are paying the highest price that is paid anywhere in Australia for milk, and because of the system of operation of the milk zone and the industry within the zone there is what might be described as artificial production to meet the requirements of quotas. A vast surplus is produced which is converted into butter; and every pound of this surplus butter attracts subsidy to the extent of 40% of the amount that the State of New South Wales shares from the total Commonwealth subsidy.
– It is about 15% of the total.
– What rot. It is a far greater figure than that; it would run to something like one-third of the total.
– Don’t be silly.
– The honourable member for Mackellar, the expert, says that is silly, but why, I ask again, does he fail to acknowledge the fact that there is a big section of the industry receiving not only the benefits of this subsidy but also, for a proportion of its production, an extraordinarily high price from the Sydney consumers. Unless this is taken into consideration in the total concept - and it is a matter for the Liberal members concerned to put forward because it is in their positive direct interest - how can they have the hide to come into this Committee and say that we do not know what we are doing as a Government?
Tragically, of course, these members have failed to make any proper inquiry into the dairying industry. They have failed to inform themselves on the operation of the industry, and they have made no contribution that is based on facts or based on a practical approach. The Government, on the other hand, has been most responsible in its administration regarding the dairying industry, and I hope the Opposition will take heed of this aspect. The Government in the last five years has introduced measures to expand the extension services for all farmers in Australia and particularly for dairy farmers. It has provided additional funds for research; it has entered into an arrangement with the States to put more funds into promotion of better methods; and it has organised with the dairying industry and the Australian Dairy Produce Board a means of promotion of sales of dairy products. Then, of course, within the States of New South Wales and Queensland quite extensive dairy farm reconstruction programmes have been implemented and are under way.
The two members concerned ignore this completely. They ignore the fact that a vast sum of money has been spent from loan funds within the ambit of this excellent work. Then of course they completely ignore the fact that their own Government only six months ago made available, with the farm loan funds scheme administered through the trading banks, a total amount of $50m with a sizeable proportion available for dairy farmers. The dairy farmers are making use of this assistance for the very purpose that these members are suggesting the Government has no plan to implement. Now of course as was said in this debate, the reason there is not set out or spelt out in detail some firm proposal is that these measures are running and it is neccesary for them to carry on for a year or so so that we may gauge properly and effectively their results, and so that we may determine the course we might follow with further measures.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) in his second reading speech made this perfectly clear. If is sheer humbug and nonsense that this proposition we have before the Committee should be submitted by men who have not taken the trouble to look into the matter with which they are attempting to deal and which they have failed miserably to appreciate or understand.
Of course there has been a great deal of reference to alternatives to dairying. The honourable member for Bradfield has suggested forestry. He apparently has been interested in some dream by a member of the Opposition that oil seed could be grown. The most elementary consideration of this would disclose that the economic results of such a proposition would be far less favourable than to continue the marginal dairy farming. These are facts that are well known to the Department of Primary Industry and to the Departments of Agriculture in the States and there are people in responsible positions within the Government service who clearly understand these facts. So tonight it would be complete folly for this Committee to consider seriously the proposition that has been put forward.
I want to say, as a member representing an electorate which is predominantly a dairying electorate, that the people in the industry have a very firm grip, a very clear understanding and a practical knowledge of the industry. In collaboration with the Government they are looking after this industry in a fairly capable way, despite its immense problems and its great difficulties and the fact that the future is not a bright one because of the world market situation and because of the very elements which we find in it and which are not dissimilar from those confronting other primary industries.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to oppose the amendment put forward by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) and obviously supported by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner). Firstly, I would like to say that during the Prime Minister’s policy speech prior to the last election the right honourable gentleman made it quite clear that if the Government was re-elected it would consult the industry with a view to renewing the five-year stabilisation plan. Having been elected, and having consulted the industry, the Government will now honour its promise not only to the dairying industry but to Australia as a whole to renew that plan. That is exactly what it will do.
The honourable member for Mackellar has suggested that in introducing this amendment he is trying to help the industry. All I can say to that suggestion is that he is doing the very reverse. He is denying the industry not only some stability in that if it has a five-year plan it will know where it is going, but he is destroying completely all the confidence that has been built up in this industry over the years. It would seem from what has been said in this House today and yesterday on many occasions that this industry has made no progress whatever over the years. However, this is completely wrong. Over the years there has been considerable improvement in the dairying industry in many of the areas in Australia and, of course, figures can prove this.
We recognise that there are still marginal areas within the industry, but we know from experience what can be done through research. Around the Australian coastline in the early development stages of this great country there were tremendous problems and they were not easily solved. There were problems of deficiency in the soil. Research is gradually overcoming these problems, and this is having its effect and will continue to have its effect. The dairying industry has accepted the challenge. The dairy farmers have stuck to their guns, and no doubt they will take advantage of this research, as they have been doing, and improve their position. This will continue. Also, as the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) mentioned, on 3 lit March 1966 it was announced that an additional $50m would be made available on long term loan through the major trading banks of Australia and that this long term finance could be used to purchase additional property where the existing property was not large enough to constitute an economic unit. Obviously the dairying industry fits into that scheme very well; it can take advantage of the finance and it has done so.
I have no doubt that the Government recognises that there are marginal farmers who will possibly need assistance over and above that which has been provided through research, by the $50m farm development loan fund, and by the Development Bank which was set up some years ago to assist them. All these measures have been made available by this Government, and they have assisted not only the dairying industry but also many other primary industries to overcome their problems. Since last year, a bounty has been payable on nitrogenous fertilisers as well as on superphosphate. All these things assist the dairying industry.
Unfortunately some people seem to think the dairying industry is the only industry in Australia or, indeed, in the world, that has problems. Of course, that is not so. Many industries, both primary and secondary, have cost problems and we are continually introducing measures to assist them. But major problems cannot be solved over night. No doubt it will be argued that some of the problems should have been overcome long ago; but research takes time. Surely, it is not suggested that in the meantime farmers should be left to walk off their properties. Had the farmers lacked the courage to continue with the struggle this is what would have happened. Many dairying properties would already have gone out of production and we would have lost part of a great industry. This has happened in other industries. In marginal areas in the wheat industry some farmers left their properties but the majority stuck to their guns over the years and, as a result of their work and as a result of research, marginal farms were turned into first class farms. This will happen in the dairying industry too because we have the right kind of men in it. I have no doubt that the dairy farmers will stick to their guns and carry on.
– All heroes.
– Somebody says: ‘AH heroes*.
– That is what you make them sound like.
– If the honourable member had been through some of the bad times that farmers went through in the last thirty or forty years he would have no doubt that they are heroes. Of course they are heroes, like many other people in Australia who have stuck to their guns, and that is why I say this Parliament should support them and not be prepared to write them down after a year. Our assistance should be assured for five years. In the interim, as the Minister has said, the Government will introduce in some form or another additional measures that will assist the marginal dairy farmer who is unable to recover from his present position. I have no doubt that the Government’s helpful attitude to the dairying industry will continue.
– I support the amendment, and I do so as one who represents an electorate in which there are various rural pursuits, including dairying. I do so as one who, before entering Parliament, worked for ten years in or for the dairying industry. I do so as one who gave evidence before the McCarthy Committee in 1959 and I do so as one who has studied agriculture. The reason I support this amendment is to have this legislation brought back to the Parliament in twelve months so that the dairying industry can ensure that the policies being evolved for it will work. I think it was fairly conclusively indicated last night that these policies are not working as effectively as they should, because there are a number of problems. I support the amendment also to ensure that the additional assistance promised in this place six years ago will be forthcoming.
If the amendment is carried the subsidy will not be affected. The subsidy will continue. There is no reason to think that it will be altered, nevertheless the farmer will be assured that governments will protect him. He will also be assured, as the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) has said, that he will not be affected if the overseas position deteriorates or Britain enters the Common Market. This debate has proved the necessity for reconstruction. The honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) said the financial policies that had been adopted were not effective or working properly.
I do not think anyone has been more eloquent, more factual or more accurate than was the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony) in his speech this afternoon. He said that the dairy farms in his electorate include numerous small uneconomical units, and that 3,000 farmers on the north coast have left their properties in the last five years. I remind the House that the very purpose of what was promised six years ago was to prevent this, or alternatively to provide reconstruction for the marginal farmer. One cannot have it both ways. Either the policies applied in the last few years have succeeded, as has been said on several occasions today, or the alternative proposition suggested by the Minister - that there is a group of marginal farmers - is wrong. I believe there is such a group, that assistance is needed, and that in the last few years people who thought they should have been given assistance did not get it.
The Minister for the Interior said that men were leaving the farms, that the farms were not being reconstructed, that they were not being sold and that they were going back to nature. He said little could be done for them unless they were given capital aid or other assistance. As I said last night, this is the very purpose of the reconstruction which was proposed or suggested six years ago by the Government. The Minister also said that capital was required.
I support the amendment because 1 believe that we, the farmers, the industry and Australia as a whole should be able to judge whether the assistance is effective. In the next twelve months assistance can, and should, be prepared. Let us examine the various things that could be achieved by undertaking a study during the next twelve months. I have stated that the subsidy should be continued; but as I pointed out during this debate the subsidy largely is going to farmers who are receiving a higher return and who are better able to finance the operations they carry out. The subsidy is not going to the marginal farmer. I do not think it is necessary that the subsidy be a flat rate. The Government should examine, for instance, the subsidy which it gives to the gold industry. It is paid proportionately on the need of the marginal gold producer. I think that the Act granting that subsidy was amended last year. There may be administrative difficulties in this connection but they could be worked out. It is a matter that could be looked at.
In addition, whilst research has been undertaken in the last two or three years and there has been a doubling of the research grants payable, more should and could be given. The Government matches the levies raised by the dairying industry for research on a dollar for dollar basis. For the wool industry the Government provides $2 for $1 raised. But the amount of work done in the field of artificial insemination and herd recording in Australia is, by and large, too little and too ineffective. It is largely carried out as a State responsibility but it could well be co-ordinated on a’ national level. This work is largely ineffective mainly because of the history of the type of milking machines we have developed in Australia. Our machines do not permit automatic recording unlike those in Europe and the United States of America. The machines used in Eurpoe and the United States permit a system of testing every day.
If we are to have effective costing on farms this is essential. But far more importantly, for an effective artificial insemination programme progeny testing on the farm and continuous and large scale herd recording are needed. It has been shown by Dr Rendel of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial and Research Organisation and Mr Robertson, in a paper in 1949, that a national herd will lose 1% of its genetic potential unless there is effective progeny testing, herd recording and artificial insemination. The results of their programme implemented in England and Europe have shown a 5% rise in the genetic potential of the British herds in the last ten years. So far as progeny testing of bulls is concerned, there are only two schemes operating in Australia - one in Victoria and one Queensland. The scheme in Queensland tests only four bulls a year. At the moment we are selecting bulls for artificial insemination on their phenotype but not on their genotype characteristics which is essential, I submit.
The other major problems of the dairying industry which could be looked at are those of the milk zones, which have been mentioned, and the situation in which other compartments of this industry find themselves. We have milk zones, particularly that in New South Wales, because in the 1950s Sydney was unable to be supplied by local milk producers and milk had to be imported from outside the State. The milk zone was created for this purpose. Milk was imported from Victoria, as well a from other States. These artificial zones were created and an artificial condition of production was also created. But the Government is not going to solve the problems of the butter industry or the whole milk industry by adopting the suggestion of the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon). He suggested that the inefficiency of the milk zone system can be solved automatically by adjusting the figures of 49c per gallon and 22c of the outer zone, adopting a figure somewhere in between and bringing milk in.
This is a national problem. It can be solved. The question of butter production, the effect of the milk zones, and the excess production of milk can only be solved by discussion. I suggest that it be undertaken by the Australian Agricultural Council. The capital which the milk zone farmers have been forced to invest can be protected to a certain extent in the same way that we are trying, by this amendment, to protect the interests of the individual dairy farmer and the interests of the community in Australia. I support the amendment.
– I want to ask one or two questions because I believe this subject should be clarified by honourable members who suggest that the subsidy should be paid for one year instead of for five years. I would like to know why there should be a subsidy for one year instead of five years. First I would like to say something to the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) because he said that the members of the coalition Government - the Country Party and the Liberal Party - were fighting on this issue. I interjected while he was speaking and said that this was exaggerated. So it is. AH that honourable members on this side are doing is disagreeing with three members of the Liberal Party. Until recently we were disagreeing with two members but now we are disagreeing with three. But all the other members of the Liberal Party also are disagreeing with those three members. So after all this debate is proceeding on most congenial terms, and it will continue to proceed on that basis so far as I am concerned.
The honourable member for Dawson did not mention what his own supporters were saying. Does he agree with the honourable member for Capricornia (Mr Gray) that the dairy farmers we are discussing should start to manufacture margarine? if he does not, and if he does not have the courage to get up and say so, then he is sowing the seeds of disillusionment in the Labor Party. Is the Labor Party in agreement on this matter? What is wrong with members of the Opposition? Are they in agreement with the suggestion that the dairy farmers should produce margarine? Does the honourable member for Dawson agree with this suggestion? Honourable members opposite appreciate him. Let him get up and say what he believes instead of saying that the Country Party is fighting with the Liberal Party. There are three members of the Liberal Party who are out of step with the coalition Government on this subject. That is all. This is probably all right. It is all right in this debate, as far as we are concerned. But I am going to prove in a few minutes that these three members are quite wrong.
Would the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) give us some more information? He has said that we should continue the subsidy for twelve months and then consider the whole matter again. Supposing that in that twelve months the Government spent a lot of money to put regional farmers on better farms.
Would he then vote in favour of extending the subsidy for a further four years? Supposing that the Government had not done anything at all at the end of that twelve months, would he then vote for the subsidy being granted for the next four years? He is silent on that matter. We want more information. It is hard to get such information from the honourable member for Mackellar because the moment he gives it he will condemn himself. So he does not say anything at all.
– I rise to order. As the honourable member for Mallee knows perfectly well, it is out of order for me to interject. I will be answering him.
– Order! In regard to the point of order raised by the honourable member for Mackellar, 1 was almost going to remind the honourable member for Mallee that for once the honourable member for Mackellar was obeying the Standing Orders. I suggest that the honourable member for Mallee make his speech to the Chair and not to other honourable members.
– Certainly. I am making my speech in this manner in an effort to spur the honourable member for Mackellar into giving us more information. Apparently I have been successful. I will leave him to answer the question, but I will repeat it for him: If the Government has not spent a lot of money in moving dairy farmers out of marginal areas on to good farm lands in the next twelve months, will he vote for the continuance of the subsidy for four years? On the other hand, if the money is not spent will be vote to continue it?
I want to refer to the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner). Apparently he is another Robin Hood. He said that the Government should take the money from the rich and give it to the poor. That is all right so long as the people concerned are not his constituents. What about child endowment, for example? Does the honourable member believe that the money should not be paid to rich people but given to the poor as increased child endowment? If he does believe in that why has he not advocated it? What about the money given over a period of five years under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act?
The Government used to make an allocation for roads every year. But it has adopted now a saner method and makes an allocation for a period of five years. This is to allow States and municipalities to plan ahead their road building programmes. For the same reason the Government is providing over a five year period a subsidy for the dairying industry. This will allow dairy farmers to plan ahead. A dairy farmer cannot plan properly on the basis of a one year subsidy. If the subsidy were operative for only one year no practical plans could be made. A dairy farmer must be able to plan well ahead. The uncertainty that would exist in the industry if the subsidy were for twelve months only would rock the industry to its very foundations. The industry would lack confidence in the Government. We do not want that to happen because dairy men know that this coalition Government is ever mindful of and vigilant for their welfare. Let me pose another question to the honourable member for Mackellar. Does he believe-
– Order! I have already reminded the honourable member for Mallee that he should address the Chair.
– Through you, Mr Chairman, I ask the honourable member for Mackellar: Does he believe that the Government should acquire only certain farms in a marginal area and place those farmers on better land, or should the Government acquire the whole of the area? If the Government decides to take the whole of the area, irrespective of whether some dairy farmers want to move, can you say, Sir, whether the honourable member for Mackellar believes in the acquisition of those farms? We read on occasions of ladies refusing to leave their homes to allow roads to go through their properties. They decide to be stayputs. If we get stayputs on a dairy farm that is considered to be marginal, is it your understanding, Mr Chairman, that the honourable member for Mackellar believes that the Government should acquire their farms? It is my understanding that he does. I will be happy if the honourable member for Mackellar and the honourable member for Bradfield will answer the questions which I have posed.
The honourable member for Robertson (Mr Bridges-Maxwell) tried to come to the rescue of his colleagues. He said that he represented an electorate in which there were a lew dairy farms. I do not think his two colleagues represent any dairy farmers. I do not think the honourable member for Robertson will get a good welcome when he returns to his electorate and talks to his dairy farmer constituents. I suggest that he is completely out of step with them because this Bill and what it stands for has been approved by the Dairy Farmers Federation. Dairy farmers all over the country are in favour of the Bill. When the Bill becomes law, as it will soon, we will have a stabilisation plan for the next five years. In that period there is nothing to stop the honourable member for Mackellar, the honourable member for Bradfield or the honourable member for Robertson advocating the case for marginal area dairy farmers. But if legislative effect were given to what they now advocate it would lead only to chaos in the industry.
– The honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) said that the Sydney milk zone was established by a Labor Government. That is so. What he did not say is that the present Liberal-Country Party Government in New South Wales has decided to retain exactly the same boundaries for the Sydney milk zone as existed when Labor was last in office in New South Wales. His colleague the Deputy Leader of the Country Party in New South Wales has just dealt with this mat’er. I doubt whether you, Mr Chairman, as the honourable member for Lyne, would want any change in the Sydney milk zone. I doubt whether the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) would want any change in the Sydney Milk zone. I doubt whether the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) would want any change in the Sydney milk zone. Strange to relate, when ‘he honourable member for Cowper refers to these things he conveniently forgets to mention that the present Government in New South Wales is retaining the boundaries that existed when Labor was last in office in that State.
It is remarkable tonight to see the Country Party proponents of free enterprise accepting socialism. This has been one of the few occasions on which they have upheld the principles of socialism.
– Does the honourable member not believe in any free enterprise?
– Certainly I do. Government supporters constantly claim that we must have free enterprise, yet they do not believe in free enterprise so far as it relates to the production of margarine. I do not want to go too far into that matter-
– Where does the honourable member stand on the issue?
– 1 moved a motion in the New South Wales Labor Party Executive seeking to have the quota on margarine lifted. That is where I stand, not because I am opposed to the dairy farmer but because I believe that the housewife should have freedom of choice in the food that she puts on her table. That is my personal view on this matter. Members of the Country Party - those who sit in Gunn’s Gully - will no longer be able to say that they believe in free enterprise if they accept socialistic principles on one hand and on the 0 her deny the housewives of Australia the right to choose what they will use on their tables.
– It seems to me that there are three propositions in the amendment that merit our consideration. Firstly there is the proposition relating to marginal farmers. The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) has displayed concern for these people, and rightly so. They are marginal not because of their own act but due to economic circumstances beyond their control, which I thought I spelled out with sufficient clarity to enable the honourable member to understand why these people are in their present position. In his second reading speech the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) foreshadowed a plan to do something about marginal farmers. So I do not see any reason to restrict the operation of the subsidy for one year until we see that plan. If at any time a plan to deal with marginal farmers is submitted to the Parliament by the Government, the Parliament has power to alter any plan that has previously been considered.
I was pleased to hear the honourable member for Robertson (Mr BridgesMaxwell) discuss the Sydney milk zone, because T dealt with this matter at some length todav. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) referred to the matter of price parity. I think it is true, as the Dairy Committee of Inquiry reported, that if marginal dairy farmers received for their milk the price that is paid to farmers in the Sydney milk zone, there would be no need for an inquiry into the industry.
Another matter referred to in the course of the debate today was, diversification. The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) expressed some concern because 33% of our butter is sold on the United Kingdom market. What he does not seem to know is that twenty years ago butter represented 75% of the total production of the dairying industry. Today it represents only 62%. In other words, the industry has been facing up to the need for diversification. I spelled out in the course of my speech today how the Australian Dairy Produce Board is endeavouring to find new markets for dairy products. It is true to say that the honourable member for Bradfield was not impressed by the Board’s efforts, but the simple fact is that milk plants have been established in Singapore, Bangkok and in Manila. From memory the total sales at this point are something in excess of $19m. In addition the Dairy Produce Board has entered into the marketing of cheese in Japan and there is a very large sale of cheese there. The figures for cheese sales in Japan this year have already exceeded those of previous years. The simple fact is that the industry has recognised the possibility of England entering the Common Market. It has recognised also the possibility that, despite the statement by the Prime Minister of Great Britain that he would try to preserve the industries and interests of Commonwealth countries, the industry has attempted to establish new markets. As I say, the honourable member for Bradfield was not impressed. Nevertheless, the industry is making a proper attempt to fact its own problems in this respect
One of the remarkable features that have come out of the debate is the apparent concern of the honourable member for Mackellar in particular - not the honourable member for Bradfield in this respect - that the farmers in some areas of the States might be prosperous. This is a new twist to the proposition. It seemed to me that his main concern was that certain farmers in the area of Gippsland which was named, in the western district of Victoria and in other favoured areas might be prosperous. Surely it should be in the back of the mind of the honourable member for Mackellar that one of the things he would like to see is a prosperous industry. Surely as one who advocates free enterprise one of his greatest concerns should be that an industry ought to be prosperous. Certainly one of the things that makes up the prosperity of the farmers in the dairying industry - let us not forget that the subsidy is paid not only to people in marginal areas but is paid right throughout the industry - is that people in chosen areas are there because their fathers or grandfathers had enough sense to go there and select those areas to farm. The reason that they are prosperous is because of the natural climate and the natural advantages that they have. But certainly on top of those things is the Commonwealth subsidy which adds about 8c per lb of butterfat.
I am disappointed at this new face of the honourable member for Mackellar complaining about the prosperity of the south coast of New South Wales, which is another area where the dairying industry is reasonably prosperous. He complains also because there seems to be some prosperity in other parts. However, if we do not renew the stabilisation plan for five years and accept the desire of the Government to do this, we will instil in the minds of those in the dairying industry right throughout Australia the idea that it is no good trying to establish markets overseas or doing any of these things because obviously the great Parliament of this nation has no faith in the future of the industry. They will have the idea that the industry is finished, that we have lost our markets in the United Kingdom and the remaining markets are no good, as was suggested by the honourable member for Bradfield. Their attitude will be: Let us give the whole show away and hand the country back either to the blacks or to the rabbits. This seems to be the proposition advanced by some honourable members. I remind them that this Parliament remains supreme. When the Government brings down its plan to improve the situation for the marginal dairy farmers as proposed in the Bill, the Parliament should be in proper shape to deal with the matter.
Another matter proposed by the Government but which I do not think has been mentioned is its preparedness to offer to factories which are unable to diversify their production financial assistance to enable them so to do. This also is a provision which will assist the industry in its cause. It will assist factories which are now producing butter but which have not the capital or are unable to get capital to produce some other form of milk product, such as cheese. The Government is prepared to assist the industry by enabling factories to switch production in i.his way. For my part I believe that the overall result for the industry of the five-year plan will be an advantage. It will be aided further by proposals which have been foreshadowed but which we have yet to see. When those proposals come forward I can look at them just as critically as can the honourable member for Mackellar and I shall be able to have my say on the proposals when they come forward. Whatever happens tonight, I hope that when the proposals do come forward the honourable member for Mackellar will have another look at them and that he will study them as closely as he has the bounty proposals. I can see no substance or purpose in the idea of retaining the bounty for one year only. It is quite obvious that the future of the dairy industry requires long term stabilisation, just as this is required by many other industries. Therefore I reject the proposition.
– The honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) made certain comments about the Milk Board and the reluctance of the New South Wales Labor Government to deal with it. His comment needs to be answered. The honourable member is well aware that the reason for that was precisely the same as the reason why the persent Askin-Cutler Government came in and, with a great flourish of trumpets and under pressure from dairy farmers from outside the milk zone, decided that it was going to do something about the situation. But when the problem was examined thoroughly it was found that it would be better left alone. The reason is simply that there has been an inflation of land values within the milk zone area. The Minister for the Interior (Mr
Anthony) can laugh if he likes, but that is the exact reason. Yet if the number of producers allowed into the zone were increased by 25% there would be a corresponding reduction. The honourable member knows quite well that that is the reason. There is, of course, with every increase in the price of milk or butter what the economists call a ratchet effect - up goes the price of land and it never comes back.
Members of the Australian Country Party in particular are the very best exponents of land speculation. They sell their products and ultimately sell their land for the best price that they can get. The whole history of Australian agriculture, right from the beginning of the last century, has been simply one of land speculation. They are out to get the best price they can for their product and also for their land. Let me remind honourable members that for more than sixty years - from the 1840’s right up to the end of the last century - in every State legislature of Australia there were arguments about the alienation of land, attempts to devise new methods of alienating land under the Crown Lands Act and land scoundrels. They were the main features of legislation and administration. Let members of the Country Party examine their own political consciences. There is no one greedier than they are when it comes to selling their land. There is very little of the European tradition where the love of the land keeps people on it from one generation to the next. When they have wrung out of the land the best they can get from it they are prepared to dump it on someone else at the current market price.
The honourable member for Cowper was in the State legislature of New South Wales at the same time as I was and it was quite a common thing for us to hear the Country Party in the morning session of the State Parliament screaming for concessions on freight for starving stock, but in the afternoon blackguarding the State Government for not making the railway system pay. By the same token, even the Country Party members in New South Wales were prepared to admit that the best Minister for Agriculture they had was a Labor Minister, the late Eddie Graham. Only people as pieeyed as some members of the Country Party are tonight- would deny that. The New
South Wales Labor Government was responsible for the electrification of 80% of farms throughout New South Wales. But that is another thing.
– 1 suggest to the honourable member that this is becoming a little wide in a fairly wide discussion on the subject which is before the Committee. I suggest that the honourable member bring his remarks closer to the point under discussion.
– I respect your ruling, Sir. There were very good reasons for the introduction of the milk zone. It was my predecessor in both the State and Federal Parliament who was responsible for its introduction. I refer to the late William Davies, MLA and, later, MHR. It was introduced to get some stability into the industry, to establish a standard of hygiene and to put an end to the paspalum farmers - the men who were prepared to milk their cows while the paspalum was flourishing and to dry it off in the winter. It was designed to ensure a continuity of supply. The gallonage imposed under the licences that were granted was to ensure continuity of supply also. It is the trafficking in those licences and the trafficking in land values that has been responsible for pushing up the cost of milk. The Milk Board was introduced for the purpose of ending block days - ‘for ending the practice in the cooler months of farmers retaining their milk for a second day after a block day and sending it to the local factory. All things considered 1 believe that the Milk Board has done a mighty good job and the present administration in New South Wales would be the the last administration in the history of that State which would be game enough to interfere with the present setup.
[8.10J - While I appreciate the motives of the honourable members for Bradfield (Mr Turner), Robertson (Mr Bridges-Maxwell) and Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) I cannot agree with their case and I oppose the amendment they have put to the Committee. They have put their case very well, but it is a case for impatience and for an early review. I do not agree that we can leave the dairying industry in a position of not knowing where it is going for the next five years. We have to give the industry a mini mal assurance, and we must give it in the terms of five years, as has been done with previous plans. By this means the dairying industry will have five years in which to work and plan, and $27m a year will be provided in subsidies. The most important feature of this Bill is the implication that not only can we look towards some method of helping marginal dairy farmers but also we can hope to develop methods of helping other marginal rural producers.
It has been quite apparent during this debate that many honourable members have experienced difficulty in searching out correct figures. There has been considerable disagreement on the number of people actually engaged in the Australian dairying industry. I have found difficulty in obtaining appropriate figures. The honourable members for Bradfield, Robertson and Mackellar have put up a good case and perhaps they may now prefer to be known as Robin Hood, Little John and, I suggest with deference, Friar Tuck, but it must be equally apparent that the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) has been playing the role, shall we say, of the Sheriff of Nottingham. At one stage he shot his bolt firmly through an interjection from the honourable member for Robertson who claimed that New South Wales would receive about 15% of this bounty. The honourable member for Cowper said that this was absolute rot and that the proportion was much nearer 30%, or about onethird. I hope that I am not misquoting, but this is as I heard it. I assume that the bounty is paid on butter, cheese and related butterfat products. Here again, figures are hard to find.
According to figures in the Year Book for 1964-65 the New South Wales share of the total production of butter was less than one-sixth of the Australian production. The cheese position was worse. New South Wales production represented a fraction more than one-fifteenth of Australia’s cheese production. I cannot find figures for the remainder of the so-called related butterfat products.
– It is 14.7%.
– I do not know where the figure of 14.7% comes from, but if we examine the whole milk situation we find that the New South Wales share of the total Australian production was slightly less than about one-fifth. It would appear, by and large that, if anything, the honourable member for Robertson slightly overestimated the situation in his figure of 15%. The difficulty of obtaining figures emphasises the difficulty of establishing exactly what is the position in the dairying industry and exactly what is the position of a marginal farmer. I have had a number of rather intense conversations with people who are much more experienced in the dairying industry than I am, but I have never found one who has been prepared to lay on the line for a particular district what is in his opinion the make and break level between a marginal farm and a farm which has some sound economy built into it. I am not going to hazard a guess at any particular figure.
I think this Bill is essential. We must support this industry which is basic in the food it produces and which is basic in the internal economy of Australia. It is also an important earner of export income. We must give the dairying industry a minimal assurance for five years - and it is minimal. I am quite certain that the industry would be prepared to negotiate differently were it to the industry’s advantage, but this legislation gives the dairy farmers something to work on. For these reasons I oppose the amendment, while, at the same time, appreciating the sincerity of the honourable members who have moved and supported it. There are great difficulties in sorting out the position. It cannot be done in one or two years and we must give an assurance to the dairying industry by opposing the amendment and passing the Bill.
– The amendment proposed by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) has at least highlighted some of the difficulties of the dairying industry. Quite frankly I think he is to be congratulated on the amendment even though the Opposition will certainly oppose it. This would have been an ordinary run of the mill debate providing for a five-year subsidy plan similar to the plans in 1947, 1952, 1957 and 1962 had it not been for this amendment. I do, as a member representing an extensive dairying constituency, honestly thank the honourable member for the amendment because without it this debate would probably have lapsed and wc would not have heard the thoughtful contributions that have been made by mem bers from both sides of the House. The debate that has ensued has highlighted the problems confronting the dairying industry. I think that the honourable member for Mackellar, on reflection, might agree that were this amendment carried it would result in much uncertainty in the dairying industry. lt would inject into the industry a fear complex. Those of us who have had experience in the industry know that in some instances it is a marginal industry.
During the last war, dairying was a child labour industry. We remember all too well that butter was made in the home by the wife and children. It was sold in the local store on an individual producer basis. It was the sound foresight of the Australian Labour Party in 1947 that corrected the position. During the second reading debate I paid a tribute to the former member for Lalor, the Honourable Reg Pollard, and the Labor Party for bringing stability to the industry. The need for stability in the industry underlies my objection to the amendment moved by the honourable member for Mackellar. The very purpose of a five-year plan is to have stability in the industry. If the amendment is carried, the industry will be placed on a yearly basis. Those of us who have an extensive knowledge of dairying know that no industry with such complex ramifications as the dairying industry has can possibly exist on a year to year basis. Stability is the mainspring of the dairying industry, and this is the basis of my appeal to the honourable member for Mackellar.
During my speech in the second reading debate, which I was obliged to make at a late hour last night, I referred to the efforts of the managers of butter factories and others who have promoted the interests of the industry. The Australian Dairy Produce Board and others have engaged in trade promotion in the interests of the dairying industry. The Tasmanian Labour Government sent a trade mission to South East Asia. The Commonwealth Government has engaged in trade promotion in various areas. But we cannot go into these areas with our dairy products unless the industry has stability. We cannot negotiate international agreements that will enable us, for instance, to sell reconstituted milk products in South East Asia unless the industry is stable. I will give an example of the need for long term arrangements. A factory was set up at Edith Creek in Tasmania to produce dehydrated milk products and there has been considerable expansion of the industry. The dehydrated products are sent to Hobart where they are mixed with cocoa and then sent in 44 gallon drums to Japan. It is the basis of chocolate made in Japan. But this is a long term arrangement and producers will not enter into long term contracts if the subsidy is given to them on a yearly basis only. These long term contracts are entered into by producers who are trying to diversify their activities and find new markets for their products.
So I say to the honourable member for Mackellar that the dairying industry needs to operate on a long term basis. It cannot be effective if it is held to a year to year basis. International agreements have also been entered into for the sale of reconstituted milk products, butter oil and so on. We could not undertake these agreements unless we had stability in the industry. This is the main requirement of the industry. As I said, the need for stability was the reason why the Labour Party introduced the first of the five year plans after the Second World War.
The honourable members for Mackellar and Bradfield (Mr Turner) expressed fears about such matters as England joining the European Common Market and the impact of margarine on the market for butter. Any adverse effects on the dairying industry resulting from either of these matters can be met if the dairying industry has an opportunity to diversify its activities, and it can do this if it has stability over a long period. It cannot diversify its activities if it must work on a year to year basis. There must be some guarantee that the subsidy will continue for a longer period than one year. I was very sorry to hear that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) had been called away to Queensland. I hope the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony), who is now at the table, will convey my remarks to him. As I have tried to point out to the honourable member for Mackellar tonight, the people in the dairying industry have done a tremendous job. They have tried to diversify their activities. They have tried to sell cheese and other products in South East Asia and in other areas. They have tried to bring stability to the industry and to cushion the effects of England’s entry into the Common Market. If this happens, we could lose most of our market in the United Kingdom and we must remember that we now sell 70,000 tons of butter a year on this market. The Government offered the incentive of a rebate of payroll tax to those who developed new markets. The dairying industry has sought new markets and has qualified for the rebate of payroll tax. But then the Government taxes us to the extent of about 50% on the rebate. It says to us: ‘We will give you a rebate of payroll tax if you will find new markets’. But when the dairying industry does this, seeks out new markets in areas such as South East Asia and so qualifies for the rebate of payroll tax, it is taxed on the rebate.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
, who has just sat down, for a very thoughtful and to me a very valuable contribution to this debate. I listened to the explanations of the honourable members for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) and Bradfield (Mr Turner), who sponsored the amendment, and I found a good deal of sympathy for much of what they said. I also listened to other honourable members who impatiently, I thought, attacked the honourable members for Mackellar and Bradfield. I listened somewhat dispassionately at first to the debate and my own feeling has been rather towards siding with the mover of the amendment.
It seems to me that some wholly specious arguments have been put by those who oppose the amendment. For instance, the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) put a proposition to the Committee. 1 imagine that this proposition was that the Government had it within its power to vary a decision that had been made and there was no need to demand information in one year when in point of fact we would not be committed for five years unless we chose to be. This seems to me to undermine the entire substance of the argument that, by committing ourselves for five years, we will give security, stability and a sense of confidence to the dairying industry. Similarly when discussion gets around to the subject of diversification in the industry we are told that 33% of the product is sold on the United Kingdom market, and of course with the entry of Britain into the European Common Market looming on the horizon the question posed by the amendment calls for a quick answer. But we were assured that in point of fact this was not necessarily so because consumption of butter had fallen from 75% to 68% - I imagine that these figures represent the proportion of butter in the total quantity of the different kinds of spreads that are used. 1 imagine that these figures were cited to give some kind of index of the inroads of margarine into the overall market for spreads.
But we were also told that we will have sold out if we accept the amendment and that the only alternative, and the real objective behind it, is something as futile as: Let us abandon the industry; let us give the country back’ - mark the words - ‘to the blacks or the rabbits.’ It seems to me that this level of arguing and presenting a case does not do the Parliament any justice.
I would add this comment: Although the Common Market does pose its problems with regard not only to Australia but also and particularly to New Zealand, the amazing corollary is that we are living in a world that is moving towards widespread hunger and a tremendous need for food products. This is something that has not been sufficiently stressed tonight. I believe that the National Parliament has an obligation not just to the immediate economic needs of Australia but also to a world that is moving into a situation of serious hunger.
I want to conclude by making a few observations of my own on the subject because it seems to me that the kind of question many Australians are asking is: What about this particular industry? Is it in the kind of shape that requires a homeopathic rather than a surgical approach?’ It is apparent to many people that different sectors of the industry are hopelessly out of date, as out of date as a harness maker specialising in four-in-hand ladies’ carriages. It is inefficient; for the most part it is highly inefficient. Much of the product that gets to the market - to the Sydney market anyway - is inferior and the price of it is too high. Fresh milk reaches the consumer when it is four days old. We still see the anachronistic spectacle of milkmen haring around at two in the morning rattling milk bottles - goodness knows for what reason. The people in the industry are exploited. They are working hours that it is not right to expect people to work in these days, and in many cases for a mere pittance in wages. There is now a peasant class developing in the country and it will become quite apparent unless a radical answer to the problem is found within a comparatively short time. If you do not believe this ask the school teachers who have to try to cram facts into the heads of children who have done the milking before coming to school and who become so tired out that they are asleep at their desks by two in the afternoon. This is not a situation that calls for complacency. I believe there is an answer and I believe that the answer must be found very soon indeed.
The honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) told us of all the Government was doing to help. Fair enough. I imagine a great deal of attention and thought is going into the consideration of these problems, and rightly so because this is a responsibility of every one of us. But we hear only about what the doctor has been doing and nothing at all about how the patient has been progressing, and this is what many of us who have been listening to the debate would like to know.
The honourable member for EdenMonaro (Mr Munro) said there was an evident impatience shown by the mover and supporters of the amendment. He said they were calling for too early a review of the situation. He said that in his opinion there must be a five year plan. I personally am not convinced about the necessity for a five year plan. The oil subsidy and the oil exploration industry for many years were on a yearly basis. This was later extended to a three year basis, and that is still the basis. Much of Government planning and commitment is on a one year basis. I believe that in this industry there is perhaps a need for a longer term but we have certainly not been given any convincing arguments about it.
I understand also that an election undertaking was given that the industry would be consulted about the extension for a further five years of this subsidy scheme. If this is the case, as I accept it to be, then I imagine I am committed, having been elected as a supporter of this Government, to vote for the motion and not for the amendment.
I would like to congratulate the honourable member for Braddon once again. It was his speech far more than some of the others which defended the scheme very vehemently that convinced me that behind this plan there is the possibility of a practicable cure. This industry is not alone in some of its problems. There are many other industries that face the inroads of modern and efficient methods which have brought a challenge to various sectors, particularly the marginal ones, and in all these industries radical changes are called for. In this connection I might mention Labor’s concern about the introduction of automation into coalmining and of containerisation on the wharves. These are radical changes that are taking place and I look forward to a similar radical approach in the industry we are now discussing.
I should conclude by saying that while I support the motion I congratulate those who have proposed the amendment and I welcome the facts that have been put before us. I for one feel that the debate has stirred the Parliament to try to ensure that there will be much more evidence of progress within the next few years, and that there will not be too much complacency resulting from the rather long period of five years that is provided for in the legislation.
– I do not want to take up the time of the Committee to the extent of more than a few minutes, but I do think that on this clause I should point out to the House and the nation the great differences of opinion on this subject between members of the Government Parties. I have been disturbed in a real way to see the obvious differences of opinion between members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party in a matter affecting the welfare of the dairying industry. I was quite disturbed tonight to hear honourable members say that they did not trust the Government, even though those honourable members are supporters of the Government. 1 listened to the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Bridges-Maxwell) and the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) and then I saw them snarling at one another across the table. I heard last night one honourable member say: ‘We will hear a moo from that paddock shortly.’ That was a Liberal Party member speaking to a Country Party member.
These are the people who say they are protecting a great dairying industry. I have never heard such bitter attacks on dairy men as have come from the ranks of the Liberal Party in this debate. These are the people who are always accusing the Labor Party of attacking the dairying industry. If these differences of opinion had been expressed as between members on this side of the Parliament we would have seen comments such as: ‘Vicious sneer in the Parliament’, ‘Labor member attacks another.’ Yet we see these honourable members snarling like lions, and later, in their own fashion, they will tell the Press that this is an example of the independence of thought of members of the Government Parties. Heavens above, did you ever hear anything more hypocritical? If we could read the thoughts of the honourable member for Robertson at this moment as he looks at the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) we would not be able to have them included in - Hansard without a libel action being instituted.
For two days the dairy men have waited for the benefit provided by this legislation to become available, for the amendments to the Act to be passed and these proposals to become effective. But all we have heard has been snarling between Government members in such a vicious fashion that I have been really disturbed as one who is concerned for the future of the dairying industry.
I listened a few moments ago to the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay). I do not know what side he is on. I do not think he has ever seen a cow. He represents a Sydney suburban electorate, yet he becomes a specialist on this issue.
The Country Party has always attacked Labor people as being city dwellers who do not know anything about the needs of primary producers. What do they think of the crowd opposite who have spoken on this Bill? Not one of them has seen a cow, not one knows what a dairy farm is. Yet the honourable member for Mackellar and others are standing up and posing as experts on this question. If they were members of the Labor Party the Country Party members in this House would be attacking them as people who know nothing about the dairying industry or dairy farms or anything of that kind.
I have no wish to trespass further on your forbearance, Mr Chairman. 1 have risen to point out these differences which have been evident on the Government side of the Parliament. Independence of thought when these differences appear on the opposite side; evidence of disunity when they appear on this side. It distresses me to see supporters of a government that seeks to lead this nation saying, in a debate concerning an industry that means so much to Australia, that they do not trust the Government’s legislation and even want to limit the operation of this clause to one year instead of five years. I presume that the honourable members who have spoken on the opposite side are members of a democratic party. Does the Government show them nothing at all before it brings legislation to the Parliament? Are they not consulted about it? If not, why not? They are always talking about a Caucus-ridden Opposition, but now it seems that this Government cannot trust its own supporters, even to the point of letting them discuss projected legislation. Ii the supporters of the Government were fully apprised of details of legislation that the Government proposed to introduce, we would not have these differences of opinion aired in the Parliament.
Tonight, therefore, I place on record my regret that these unfortunate episodes have occurred in the ranks of the LiberalCountry Party Government. I hope that the dairying industry will not suffer because of the obstructionist tactics of the Government and particularly of the members of the Liberal Party. Of course, the Country Party is not without its share of responsi bility. If it had not been for the Labor Party there would never have been any stabilisation in the industry, and there would never have been any security or reasonable markets for the dairying people. It was not until Labor came to office that they got those things. The father of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony) was in this Parliament at that time, and I think he paid tribute to the Labor Party for the contribution it made to the welfare of the dairying industry in this country. I thank you, Mr Chairman, for your patience and tolerance. I point out these great differences of opinion and I now give way to an honourable member who will rise in his place and attack one of his colleagues in the Liberal Party.
– This debate has shown some rather peculiar ignorance’ by people we would have expected to know better. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) said that this Bill gave the security of a payment of $27m annually for five years. It does nothing of the sort. If he looks at section 5 (4) of the Act he will find that the bounties are payable out of moneys appropriated by the Parliament from time to time for the purpose. Evidently he did .not read the Act.
As for the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies), I sympathise very much with what he said about the necessity for diversification. It was what I was trying to say myself. However, apparently he has not read section 6 of the Act, which allocates this subsidy not with the object of diversification at all. It allocates it in accordance with the amount of butter fat in the milk used for the manufacture of butter and cheese. Then the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) spoke on the subject. One would have thought that he would have known that only 15% of the subsidy came to New South Wales. However, he said that it was very much more; I believe he said it was up to one-third. This kind of ignorance is surely intolerable.
The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) asked me three questions and I will answer them quickly so that I can get on to other things. Firstly, he asked whether I would support the acquisition of farms. My answer to that is no; I support help to farmers to get into other means of production; I do not want to put any compulsion on them at all. I want to give them inducements and opportunities. Secondly, he asked me whether if we voted money for a subsidy for rehabilitation I would vote for more. My answer is yes, if the plan is good. Thirdly, he asked whether I would vote for a continuance of the subsidy in its present form. To that I say that I would vote for an amendment which would do more justice to the dairy farmers and help them more than these proposals would do. I am not suggesting cutting down in any way the amount of money available for the dairying industry; I am suggesting rather that it be applied better.
Let me come to something which I think should engage more the attention of the Committee. What will be the position of the export butter industry if Britain should enter the Common Market? Perhaps honourable members are not familiar with these figures sp I will give them. The figures will show honourable members the enormity of the problems we face. The present price of margarine in Britain is 2s per lb sterling, and the present price of butter is 3s 3d per lb sterling. On that basis nearly twice as much butter is consumed as margarine. However, under the Common Market arrangements the wholesale price of butter is 603s sterling per cwt, equal to 5s 4d per lb wholesale or 6s per lb retail. I have shown the kind of spread between butter and margarine with a price differential of 2s to 3s 3d, but if Britain goes into the Common Market the price differential immediately becomes 2s against 6s. The amount of butter consumed obviously will diminish drastically, certainly by 50%, for it will be replaced largely in Britain by margarine. Incidentally, this happened in the countries in Europe which are the main dairying countries, such as Denmark and Holland.
Let us look at what happens to the United Kingdom butter market. In round figures, 500,000 tons a year go into that country. Of that, 175,000 tons comes from New Zealand and 75,000 tons comes from Australia. Therefore, about half the total comes from New Zealand and Australia. Of the remainder, the United Kingdom produces about 40,000 tons, Ireland about 30,000 tons, the European Free Trade Area coun tries 140,000 tons, and the Common Market countries 30,000 tons. A mere 10,000 tons comes from places outside. If Britain goes into the Common Market the EFTA countries will go in with her, so this means there will be about 250,000 tons of butter available immediately in the British market without one pound being imported from either Australia or New Zealand, which will lie outside the charmed circle.
Indeed, the situation is worse than that. Because of the rise in local British prices, British production itself is likely to rise. There are farmers unions in Britain who have political power just as the Country Party here has political power to ensure a home market for the home farmers. In point of fact, the figures I have given indicate that if Britain goes into the Common Market butter imports from New Zealand and Australia will not just be diminished; they will be cut off as with a butter knife. And if this amount of butter goes on to a world market where there is no substantial international trade outside the countries I have mentioned it will disorganise the whole market, and all Australian and New Zealand butter will become virtually unsaleable.
It is useless to talk about developing other markets. If we had done this years ago, perhaps something would have been achieved, but when we are faced with this kind of possibility the only prudent thing to do is to have a plan which reduces the production of Australian butter. Anything less than that is a betrayal of the Australian dairying industry, because it is putting it into a situation where it must be facing bankruptcy if the even money chance comes up - and it is only an even money chance - and Britain goes into the Common Market in the next three years. We must remember the enormity of the peril in which some of the members in this place representing dairy farmers have placed their constituents.
Under the present scheme the Australian production of butter is increasing, not decreasing. In 1950 it stood at around 170,000 tons. Last year it was 205,000 tons, and that was a bad drought year. This year it looks like going up to 220,000 tons. I know that the year has not been completed, and this is a figure which is an estimate rather than a firm figure. But looking at the position as it is and knowing the way in which the subsidy is going to the rich farms who do not need it and being taken away from the small marginal farms which do need it for conversion to other forms of production, we can see that the effect of the subsidy is to inflate Australian production at the expense of marginal farmers and to run the industry into yet more and more peril. This kind of thing that is being taken on by the Government under the influence of the dairy seats is reckless, irresponsible, and a betrayal of the dairy farmers. This is the proof. This subsidy scheme, which apparently we are going to endorse for another five years, is directed not towards helping marginal farmers but towards increasing the production of butter fat, which is the one dairy product the production of which we should not be increasing. We should be seeking to obtain the diversification that the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) was talking about and helping marginal farmers to convert to more economic production. This is the salvation both of the individual farmer and of the industry as a whole. What the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) is really suggesting is that we should take away money that rightly belongs to his constituents and give it to the constituents of the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) or the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon), who do not really need it.
It is shocking that this kind of thing should be done. The debate in this chamber is ending but it will go on for a long time outside the Parliament
– Tonight we have witnessed the rare spectacle of a debate degenerating into a slanging match between the Liberal Party and the Country Party. Last night the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) said that he would like to set a bonfire, put some members of the Liberal Party on it and light it. This is the type of thing that has been going on in this debate, which, as I have said, has developed into a slanging match between the Liberal Party and the Country Party - the coalition Government that is supposed to be looking after the welfare of the dairy farmers. Can you imagine, Mr Chairman, what the dairy farmers of Australia, particularly those in the problem areas, are thinking as they listen to this debate and hear the arguments between those parties over their industry? Have members opposite really given any thought to the principal reason for the introduction of this Bill, which is to assist the dairy farmer? Apparently not. They have been too interested in fighting amongst themselves and showing the people of Australia just how shaky are the foundations of this coalition Government.
One of the problem dairying areas is in the throes of a serious drought and the farmers in it need help. But what thought has been given by the Government to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of such areas? We know that a promise has been made, but we have seen the disgraceful spectacle of a slanging match between the Libera] Party and the Country Party.
– Order! I suggest that the honourable member is getting a little wide of the subject matter before the Committee.
– The dairying industry is a great industry, but it needs assistance. This Bill guarantees assistance of $135m over the next five years. This will give the industry an opportunity to plan and it will give the technical people in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the State Departments of Agriculture an opportunity to help the industry. Members of the Labor Party believe in helping this great Australian industry and we wholeheartedly reject the amendment moved by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth).
– I think the honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett) summed up Government policy tonight when, in opposing the amendment, he said that in the Government’s policy speech given before the last election the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) had announced that there would be consultations with the industry on the next five-year stabilisation plan. These consultations have taken place and the industry, in discussions with the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann), asked that there be a repetition of the previous five-year stabilisation and a continuance of the subsidy on butter, cheese and processed products containing butter fat. The Government has agreed to this and is putting through a five-year stabilisation agreement in much the same terms as the previous agreement, although there are areas of minor difference. 1 have been quite pleased with this debate in that there has been considerable unanimity among honourable members in expressing sympathy for the Australian dairying industry, with particular reference to those in the industry who receive low incomes and face severe problems. The only discordant note which has tended to upset the milk bucket is this amendment, which suggests that we continue the subsidy for only one year and then debate the matter again. This seems to me rather like a person who approaches Daisy with all the enthusiasm in the world but if he has cold hands he cannot expect but to have a little opposition. I think that sums up the case - that some honourable members who have spoken have tended not to show the understanding and deep sympathy that is necessary in this problem.
The industry has asked that it have a fiveyear programme so that there can be a degree of stability; so that there may be some continuity and so that there will be no uncertainty and doubt as to the Government’s attitude. We have said that we will give a subsidy of $27m a year for the next five years, but this is not written into the Bill before us and each year the payment will come up for debate on the Estimates. If the Government finds that there are unusual circumstances, it can vary the subsidy up or down. However, the Prime Minister said in his policy speech that the Government will give $27m a year for the next five years.
Those supporting the amendment are proposing that after one year something should happen - that the subsidy should remain the same, be reduced or be increased. The implication is that reconstruction ought to take place in the industry to the value of the subsidy paid to the industry. The Minister for Primary Industry said in his second reading speech that the subsidy would be continued and that in addition the Government would consider reviewing the problems of the low income earners. This is the first time that the Commonwealth Government has ever laid down categorically in the stabilisation scheme that it would look at and tackle this problem. I want to challenge the remarks of the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Bridges-Maxwell) who said that similar remarks were made when the current stabilisation scheme was introduced five years ago. I want to repeat what was said during the debate when the present fiveyear stabilisation scheme was introduced. In the second reading speech on the Dairying Industry Bill 1962, presented on 1st May of that year, it was said that the States were studying the recommendations of the McCarthy Committee inquiry in relation to land settlement and production, as this was their constitutional responsibility. As a result of that, there has been some progress and some action by three States, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.
In New South Wales pasture improvement schemes have been introduced. A scheme has also been introduced to assist in the consolidation of farms. The same sort of thing has happened in Queensland. In Western Australia plans have been made to rehabilitate the industry. But this is the first time that the Commonwealth Government has categorically said that it was going to enter this field. I will repeat what was said by the Minister for Primary Industry in his second reading speech. He stated:
The Government has agreed in principle to assisting the industry with respect to the problem of the marginal dairy farmer but the ways in which this help can most effectively be given have yet to be worked out. . . . Consequently the Government feels that at this stage it need only signify to the industry that it is willing to provide assistance to high cost and marginal producers. At the same time the Government will ensure that there will not be any undue delays in getting such an important scheme under way.
When this scheme does come before the Parliament every honourable member will have an opportunity to debate it. I am sure that the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), who has shown a great deal of interest and enthusiasm in trying to tackle this problem, will enter into that debate. But I would not like to think, and I would not like the people in the dairying industry to think, that during this five year period reconstruction will be carried out at the cost of the subsidy that the Minister announced in his second reading speech. The subsidy is absolutely vital if there is to be stability in the industry. The subsidy has become built into the cost structure of the industry over a period of twenty-odd years. Even the most efficient producer in Australia - and by world standards he is efficient - would suffer greatly if the subsidy was drawn out from beneath him at this time.
I want to make one comment on what the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), said. It is not an important comment. I just want to correct him slightly. He referred to what the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) said about the dairying subsidy paid in New Zealand. The honourable member for Bradfield said that the subsidy in New Zealand had been eliminated and was now being paid by the consumer. I would like to inform the honourable member, Mr Chairman, that in New Zealand there is a guaranteed price scheme for all butter exports. There is a guarantee that the dairy fanner will net a return from export sales of 330s per cwt. The price during the last two years has been only 300s per cwt. This means that the central bank in New Zealand has had to make up the difference, which has amounted to about £NZ8m each year for the past two years. The honourable member should not say that New Zealanders do not get assistance. They do. Every single dairy industry in the world has some sort of prop beneath it. This may seem ridiculous and ludicrous, but that is the situation. Honourable members should not ask Australian dairy farmers to stand up against subsidised dairying industries in other countries if they have to export in competition with them.
The honourable member for Robertson said that I had said that 3,000 dairy farmers had left the north coast of New South Wales. I said that a survey by the Department of Agriculture revealed that 3% of dairy farmers had left the industry over the past five years and this is the experience over the whole of Australia.
During my speech this afternoon, when speaking about the reconstruction that was needed in the industry, I emphasised that the reconstruction, and the departure of people from the industry, should be carried out on an orderly basis. It should not be a matter of sheer economics. Farmers should not be forced out of the industry. If an attempt is made to force them out by economic means, this will introduce tremendous hardship for them. Goodness me, the hardship they face is bad enough at the moment. People should not be starved out of an industry when they do not know any other industry. They have to be helped and encouraged when moving out of the industry, if they wish to do so voluntarily. They should never be forced.
It was also suggested during the debate that there should be a variation in the method of payment of the subsidy. This is a matter for debate. I do not support it. If there is any doubt about the distribution of the subsidy, then this question should be answered: Are people who are producing milk for whole milk consumption entitled to part of the subsidy given for the production of butter and cheese? We have the spectacle - and I think particularly of the New South Wales milk zone - of dairy farmers being encouraged to produce at any cost. During the flush periods they produce a surplus and this surplus goes into absorbing part of the subsidy which should be helping those people who are wholly and solely dependent on the sales of butter, cheese and butter-fat products. This is one area of the industry that ought to be looked into. I hear people make cynical or sneering remarks about the butter producers and cheese producers in Australia - I am sorry I have to say this - but those people are not being truthful if they do not at the same time look at the inefficiency in the milk zones in Australia. If the finger needs to be pointed then it is in this area that there is a great deal of inefficiency. 1 do not want to enter into a debate on the milk zones but there is need for a careful examination of this matter to see what can be done about it.
At some time in the history of Australia I would like to see the adoption of what has happened in some other countries where there is a payment, principally based on the contents in the milk itself - on the milk protein and the milk sugars - and then a premium on top of that if the milk is for whole milk consumption where there is a need for immediate deliveries and where there is a need for an extra high degree of hygiene. It is in this respect that the situation should be looked at. I do not think this can be done for a considerable time because there is built into the milk zones a very high capital structure. There could not be a sudden change overnight because it would cause hardship. But this is a problem which should be looked at equally as much as the problem in the butter producing areas.
Mr Chairman, I would like to explain that the Minister for Primary Industry unfortunately had to go to Brisbane tonight because of family sickness. I thank the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) for his remarks. I was asked to deputise for the Minister and to pilot the Bill through the House. I felt that I should explain because of my summing up remarks.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) put:
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority .. ..20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr Anthony) - by leave - proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– When the gag was moved on the discussion of the amendment proposed in Committee the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) and the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) had left the chamber. They would not vote on the gag. But they were not able to get back into the chamber in time to vote on the amendment, if they so desired. I think this is an injustice and I bring it to the attention of the House.
-Order! The honourable member’s remarks are not related to the Bill. He is out of order.
– I mention only that the mover and seconder of the amendment were locked out.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I wish only to point out to the House that although the right to refuse leave to move the third reading of a bill rests at any time with any honourable member, it has always been our practice on this side to grant leave. But invariably when we seek reciprocal courtesy from the Government it is denied us. I hereby give notice that next time I am gagged in any circumstance I will refuse to grant leave to move the third reading of the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 5 April (vide page 926), on motion by Mr Adermann:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– We have been very disturbed in the House tonight by the incredible spectacle of members of the Government parties being at loggerheads with each other over the provisions of legislation affecting the dairying industry. It must be a matter of concern to dairy men everywhere that Government supporters could not agree on this important matter. For two days we have seen legislation held up in this Parliament, not by the Opposition, which was in broad agreement with the provisions of the Dairying Industry Bill, but by Government supporters who were literally at each other’s throats.
– Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Grayndler return to the Bill before the House.
– I am dealing with the Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill 1967 which was introduced by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) and I am speaking on the resumption of the debate on the second reading. I am pointing out that this Bill, which was discussed together with the Dairying Industry Bill, is one on which there was considerable disagreement on the Government side of the chamber. We on this side of the Parliament are amazed at the spectacle of Government supporters being in disagreement with their coalition colleagues of the Australian Country Party on legislation which means so much to members of the primary producing industries. Tonight we heard an honourable member say in the course of a bitter attack that the legislation we are discussing is reckless, irresponsible and a betrayal of the dairy farmer. Have honourable members ever heard anything worse coming from a Government supporter? That was said by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) who was locked out of the chamber when his amendment came before the Committee for a vote.
– I rise to order. The honourable member is not addressing himself to the Bill; he is discussing what has taken place in another debate.
-Order! The Chair will decide matters of this kind. There is no substance in the point of order. However, I remind the honourable member for Grayndler that he is wandering a little from the substance of the Bill. I suggest that he return to the subject matter before the Chair.
– I shall not trespass on your generosity, Mr Speaker. I respect your ruling and I am sorry that the words I used have got under the skins of honourable members opposite who must feel the tension that exists between the two Parties on this important issue. Having said so much I conclude by pointing out to the nation the disagreement between the Government parties on a great issue, a disagreement which has been demonstrated in the Parliament tonight.
– I should like to express a few thoughts on this Bill. In this regard I thank the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) for the remarks he made, and at the same time I point out the tremendous value of this Bill to those in the dairying industry in Australia. As I mentioned in my second reading speech and during the committee stage of the Dairying Industry Bill, which has just been passed and which related to a bounty for butter fat, I congratulate the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) for describing the difficulties confronting the dairying industry. I thank him very much for bringing forward the amendment which he proposed on that Bill. By doing so he emphasised the difficulties faced by the industry in Australia. His amendment served to highlight, as I have said, what would otherwise have been a very dull debate. I believe that we should congratulate the Australian Dairy Produce Board for going out into other countries to seek markets for our milk products. It is to this point that the Bill before the House is directed.
I congratulate not only the Australian Dairy Produce Board but also the Labor Government in my State of Tasmania and the trade missions which have been sent by the Commonwealth into South East Asia seeking markets for diversified products of milk industry. Not only we on this side of the chamber but also members of the Country Party and those who are interested in the Liberal Party have always been concerned with the problems facing those producers who are able to achieve only the standard of 8,000 lb of butter fat, which is regarded as being an economic living for a farmer and his family. It has been recognised by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Aderman), who I am sorry to say is not here, that in the case of war service land settlement at least 10,000 lb of butter fat is the recognised standard for a farmer, his wife and children. It is recognised that that is the amount on which they can subsist and carry on the normal functions of a dairy farm. It is considered that this will provide the farmer and his family with an economic standard of living. On behalf of the islanders of Bass Strait I pay tribute to the Minister for this legislation. He has recognised the disabilities confronting these people and has increased the standard for them to 12,000 lb of butter fat.
This is a very important piece of legislation. I congratulate the Government on continuing the bounty for milk products which was the policy of the Labor Government of 1947 when the scheme was introduced by the former member for Lalor, Mr Reg. Pollard. Honourable members on this side of the chamber are concerned with the problem of the marginal farms. As has been pointed out so often tonight and during the debate in the last couple of days many farms in northern New South Wales and also in Queensland are producing less than 8,000 lb of butter fat. Within the last four years, 4,000 farms in northern New South Wales have gone out of existence and 9,000 farms in Queensland have ceased to exist because of the problem of a diminished standard of living. In the previous debate the honourable member for Mackellar referred to section 6 of the act and spoke of the manufacture of cheese and butter. He said that the bounty related only to those products. He referred also to the fear which had been engendered in him and which had prompted him and his colleague to introduce the amendment on which, unfortunately, they did not vote. I remind the honourable member and the House that in this regard the people in charge of the dairying industry in Australia since the advent of the McCarthy Report of six or seven years ago have done a very fine job. By their efforts in regard to milk products and various by-products of milk they have been able to divert about 50,000 tons of this product into South East Asia. I pay tribute to these people.
As I indicated in my remarks on the preceding Bill, only about 17% of the cheese exported from Australia went outside the United Kingdom market. That was the situation seven years ago, but today well over 50% of Australia’s cheese exports are diverted into South East Asia. I am very pleased to belong to a State - the first in Australasia, which is a tribute to the people of my State - which has come forward with long-life ultra-heat treated milk, which will bc of tremendous benefit to the milk industry. But in addition to that product, we have also anhydrous milk fat, milk powder, casein and butter oil from a factory at Deloraine in northern Tasmania. We are now exporting more than 1,000 tons of butter oil each year. As I mentioned earlier tonight, we have the production of milk powder in various parts of the state. The tankers go into the farms and collect the whole milk, which is dehydrated. The milk powder is then sent to the factory operated by CadburyFryPascall Pty Ltd in Hobart in 44-gallon drums. It is impregnated with cocoa that comes from overseas. The product is then sent to Japan for the manufacture of chocolate. It is a good thing that these milk products qualify for a bounty under the Act.
The Opposition is vitally concerned about and interested in the dairy industry. Let it not be said that because we belong to the Labor Party we are interested only in the Waterside Workers Federation and union affairs. Members on this side are just as interested in all sections of the community, and in the welfare of dairy farmers, orchardists and other primary producers, as are members on the other side. This has been proved by the fact that in 1947 the former member for Lalor, Mr Reg Pollard, introduced a subsidy for the dairying industry. Honourable members who were here during the last Parliament and previous parliaments sincerely miss Mr Pollard’s contributions to debates such as this. Had he been here tonight he would have been able to relate the historic background of this legislation.
The Labor Party shares the concern of members of the Country Party and of the Liberal Party who are anxious to protect Australian farmers, particularly dairy farmers. Members opposite have expressed concern about Britain’s possible entry into the Common Market and the effect that will have on our traditional markets. We are aware of the problems confronting the dairy industry from margarine. However, when a primary industry is in danger, members from all parties gather together to fight for export markets. I congratulate the Australian Milk Board, the Dairy Produce Board and other bodies that have gone on missions to South East Asia in an effort to secure markets for our diversified milk products. I point out that in the last five years our cheese exports to Japan have increased from 100 tons to about 5,000 tons.
The stability that we can build into the industry through the subsidy is most important. As the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) indicated, this subsidy is built into the dairying industry, and it must be continued for a period of five years. I tried to point out to the honourable member for Mackellar that it is impossible to apply a subsidy from year to year. It must be a subsidy continuing over a five-year period. Other countries subsidise their dairying industries. It is important that the bounty we pay be continued, particularly when we realise that over 600,000 people are employed in the industry, over $200m is invested in it, over $100m is involved in plant and equipment, and over 10,000 people are directly employed in milk factories and cheese factories. The industry is highly efficient. We have heard criticism of the dairy industry. Members have suggested that it is not highly efficient, but that is far from true.
Every thing possible has been done to secure markets for our produce. The Government has said that if overseas markets are sought and obtained the industry will be given a payroll tax rebate. The rebate will provide the incentive to seek overseas markets and overseas capital. I think it only fair that the rebate should not be taxed. Various co-operatives have gone out and sought new markets. They have opened markets in South East Asia. Now they are being taxed at least at the rate of 50% on the rebate of payroll tax that was given to them as an incentive when they looked for these markets. It is on behalf of these people that I rise tonight and ask the Government to reconsider its decision. If these people are prepared to go into overseas markets in an effort to cushion the possible effects of Britain’s entry into the Common Market and the impact that margarine may have on butter sales, they should not have most of the rebate of payroll tax that they have earned taken from them. They should be encouraged and their enthusiasm should not be dampened by taxing the incentive that the Government offered in the first place.
The dairying industry is a very efficient industry. However, we would be pleased if those engaged in it could obtain finance more readily. I know that this does not come within the ambit of the Bill and I thank you, Mr Speaker, for allowing me to make the points that I have. The Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony), who is now at the table, mentioned the owner-operator when we were debating the previous bill. He said that the wife and children must help the owner if the farm is to be worked economically. This is an important factor in the industry. I hope that in the next twelve months when the Government is considering the plight of dairy farmers it will give more consideration to the owner-operators.
Recently, when the Minister for Primary Industry introduced a Bill relating to war service land settlement, he said that this was a matter of continuing concern, but that he could not offer a solution to the problem: I have offered my suggestion to the Government. I have also asked the Government to reconsider its decision to tax the rebates of payroll tax that have been earned by those who export milk products to new markets. The efforts of these people to win new markets will help to bring stability to the industry and to cushion the effects of England’s entry into the Common Market, which could cause us to lose a market that now takes more than 70,000 tons of butter. I pay tribute to the Australian Dairy Produce Board and to everyone else who has helped to diversify the activities of the dairying industry. I am very pleased to support the Bill that is now before us. It will continue the bounty on milk products for another five years.
Debate (on motion by Mr Wentworth) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Bowen, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is a Bill to amend the Trade Practices Act 1965-1966 in two respects. The main amendment extends the operation of the Act in relation to the State of Tasmania. The other is a minor drafting amendment bringing up to date a reference in section 4 to the Northern Territory (Administration) Act.
The Trade Practices Act at present applies in Tasmania to the extent of the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers but those powers are limited in certain respects. This Bill will serve to make the Act operate fully in Tasmania, so that, for example, distinctions between interstate and intrastate trade and commerce will not be material to its application to that State. Whether the Commonwealth Act is to have this full operation in any particular State is, of course, a matter for each State to consider. But I should explain to honourable members that if a State wishes the Act to have this full operation there are two courses open to it.
One course is to take advantage of the express provision that was made in section 8 of the Commonwealth Act for appropriate State legislation to be declared complementary to the Commonwealth Act. Complementary legislation of the kind referred to in that section would operate side by side with the Commonwealth legislation. The other course is one for which the Commonwealth Act did not need to make provision. The provision for it was already contained in section 51 (xxxvii) of the Commonwealth Constitution.’ Under this provision of the Constitution a State parliament may refer a matter to the Commonwealth Parliament, which may then make laws with respect to the referred matter. Any such Commonwealth law extends only to the State by whose parliament the matter was referred, and to States which afterwards adopt the law. By an appropriate reference under this provision the parliament of a State can enable the Commonwealth Parliament to give the Commonwealth Trade Practices Act full operation in that State. If this course is followed, the State practices that are brought within the Commonwealth’s powers by the reference are dealt with, together with the practices already covered by the Commonwealth Act, in one indivisible code contained in Commonwealth legislation.
The State of Tasmania, having reached the conclusion that it would be desirable for the Commonwealth Act to have full operation in that State, has chosen to proceed by way of the second of the two courses I have mentioned, namely, a constitutional reference. The Tasmanian Parliament accordingly enacted, for this purpose, the Commonwealth Powers (Trade Practices) Act 1966. It is now proposed, by the Bill before this House, that the Commonwealth Parliament exercise the additional legislative power resulting from the Tasmanian reference.
The amendment proposed by this Bill in no way extends the subject matter of the Trade Practices Act 1965-1966, for example, by applying it to new kinds of agreements or practices. Its effect is simply to take the Commonwealth Act, the provisions of which have been fully debated in this Parliament and, with the help of the reference from the Tasmanian Parliament, to give those provisions an operation in the State of Tasmania which is not limited by reference to the Commonwealth’s ordinary constitutional powers.
The principle of Commonwealth-State co-operation in the field of trade practices received the approval of this Parliament when it passed the Trade Practices Act 1965-1966. The proposed amendment will give effect to that principle in the light of the course the Tasmanian Parliament has chosen to take.
The other amendment proposed by the Bill is a drafting one relating to the citation of the Northern Territory (Administration)
Act. Since the enactment of section 4 of the Trade Practices Act in 1965 the Northern Territory (Administration) Act has been amended by the National Debt Sinking Fund Act 1966. Sub-section (4.) of section 4 of the Trade Practices Act should, in consequence, refer to the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910-1966, and clause 3 of this Bill provides accordingly. Clause 3 also amends sub-section (7.) of section 4 of the Trade Practices Act so as to provide for the Northern Territory (Administration) Act, as amended by section 4 of the Trade Practices Act, to be cited in future as the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910-1967. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Connor) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Bowen, and read a first time.
10.45] - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. This Bill relates to persons who are sentenced to imprisonment for offences against laws of the Commonwealth. It provides for the application of State or Territory laws empowering a court to fix a minimum term of imprisonment which must be served by a prisoner before he is eligible to be released on parole. It also provides a system for the release on parole of such prisoners.
Three States at present have enacted laws providing for the fixing of minimum terms of imprisonment. They are Victoria, Western Australia and, more recently, New South Wales. In Victoria a court is required to fix a minimum term of imprisonment if it imposes a sentence of imprisonment of not less than two years. The court may fix a minimum term if it imposes a sentence of imprisonment of less than two years but not less than one year. In each case the minimum term must be at least six months less than the term of the sentence. The Western Australian and the New South Wales provisions differ somewhat from those in Victoria. In Western Australia a court is required to fix a minimum term if the sentence is not less than one year’s imprisonment. If it imposes a sentence of less than one year, it may fix a minimum term. The New South Wales provisions are similar, except that the court may not fix a minimum term of less than six months. In each State the court is not required to fix a minimum term if it considers that the nature of the offence and the antecedents of the offender render the fixing of a minimum term inappropriate. After service by the prisoner of the minimum term, the decision concerning his release rests with a Parole Board.
The Victorian Court of Criminal Appeal has held that the abovementioned Victorian provisions are not applicable in the case of a sentence imposed for an offence against Commonwealth law. The Commonwealth has therefore had to consider the merits of the minimum sentencing system that I have described and to make a decision whether such a system should be applied to Commonwealth offenders by Commonwealth legislation. In the Commonwealth’s view, the system has much to commend it. It enables the Court to make a judgment as to the period that, in the public interest, a prisoner should be required to serve before becoming eligible for release under supervision. It also provides an incentive to the prisoner to make a positive effort to rehabilitate himself and become a useful member of society.
The Bill provides that the law in force in a State with regard to the fixing of a minimum sentence is to be applied by State courts and by Federal courts in relation to persons who are convicted in the State for offences against Commonwealth law. The Bill is drafted to apply to both present and future State laws so that, if similar provisions are introduced in the other States, the Bill will apply to them. The Bill therefore expresses the policy that a person who is being sentenced to imprisonment for an offence against a law of the Commonwealth should be treated in the same way as if he were being sentenced for an offence against the law of the State in which the trial takes place.
Similarly, a law in force in a mainland Territory with regard to the fixing of minimum sentences is to be applied by Federal courts and by courts of that Territory in relation to persons who are convicted by those courts in the Territory for offences against Commonwealth laws. There are no provisions in present Territory laws with regard to minimum sentences. The Government has decided that minimum sentence systems should be established for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and it is intended to introduce this legislation at an early date. 1 have mentioned that in Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales the decision to release a prisoner after service of the minimum term rests with a Parole Board. The decision regarding the release of a Commonwealth prisoner who has served a minimum term is properly one not for the State authorities but for the Commonwealth itself. The Bill accordingly provides that after service of a minimum term the decision concerning his release rests with the Governor-General acting with the advice of the Attorney-General. It is proposed that the Governor-General will, in practice, have the benefit of the views of the relevant State parole authorities. Moreover, the parole order made by the Governor-General is to be subject to such conditions as are specified in the order, including the condition that the person is to be subject to the supervision of a parole officer. The Bill authorises the GovernorGeneral to arrange with the Governor of a State for the performance by State officers of the functions of a parole officer under the Act and ‘parole officer’ is defined to include a State officer in respect of whom such an arrangement is applicable. The Commonwealth has had much valuable assistance in the past from State prison, probation and parole authorities with respect to federal offenders. I have informed the State Attorneys-General of the scheme which is now embodied in the Bill and they have expressed general approval of it.
The Bill sets out in some detail the procedures to be followed in the event of a person failing to comply with provisions of a parole order. The procedures are quite intricate, and I mink that honourable members may be assisted if I describe briefly how they will operate. The Bill provides that the Governor-General may revoke a parole order. It also provides a procedure for cancelling a parole order if the person on parole has broken a condition of the parole order.
Where a parole order is revoked or there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person has failed to comply with a condition of a parole order a constable may, without warrant, arrest the person. The constable is to take the person before a prescribed authority, namely, a magistrate of the State or Territory in which the person is arrested. If the magistrate is satisfied that the parole order has been revoked he is to issue a warrant of commitment for the person’s imprisonment. If he is satisfied that the person failed, without reasonable excuse, to comply with a condition of the parole order, he is to cancel the parole order and issue a warrant of commitment for the person’s imprisonment. Where the parole order is cancelled, the person will have a right of appeal to the Supreme Court of the State or Territory in which he was arrested. Where an appeal is instituted, the magistrate may order the person’s release on recognisance.
Where a person is released in one State or Territory and dealt with by a magistrate in another State or Territory, the magistrate is to issue a warrant for the person’s imprisonment either in the original State or, if requested by the Attorney-General, in the State in which he is being dealt with. A parole order is to be automatically terminated if a person on parole is sentenced to a further term of imprisonment in respect of some other offence. The Bill provides that in such a case the parole order is to be deemed, for the purposes of the Act, to have been revoked. After the person has served the term of imprisonment for the subsequent offence he is to be detained in prison to undergo imprisonment for the balance of his original sentence. Where he is detained in a State or Territory other than the State or Territory in which he was imprisoned for the original offence, a warrant may be issued for his return to the original State or Territory to serve the balance of his sentence.
I mention two further matters dealt with in the Bill. In the first place, the Bill places beyond doubt the validity of the practice that has been followed in the past of granting the same remissions of sentence for good conduct to a federal offender serving his sentence in a State prison as would be granted to him if he were serving a sentence for an offence against a law of the State in which he is imprisoned. Secondly, the legislation is not to affect the exercise of the royal prerogative of mercy.
I commend the Bill to the consideration of the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Connor) adjourned.
– I have very much pleasure in supporting this Bill. One of the objectives of the Bill is to help the diversification of the products of the dairying industry and to reduce the danger of the impending avalanche of butter if Britain should decide to enter the Common Market. It is a measure, therefore, that should commend itself entirely to this House. Although the Government may not have made up its mind about all the details of the plan, nevertheless we can say in thise case as distinct from the case of the butter subsidy that any plan put forward must include a support of the processed milk products industry at least to the extent of the amount included here. I think perhaps this amount may even turn out to be inadequate and that it will have to be added to later on.
One of the differences between the processed milk products and butter is that in regard to butterfat, overseas it is thought that margarine is equal to butter or nearly as acceptable, and it is a substitute which puts a ceiling on overseas butter prices and a ceiling on overseas consumption of butter. Margarine in terms of helping to feed hungry people is, of course, much more economical and efficient than butter. The amount of fats that we produce from an acre of land in terms of vegetable oils is very much greater than the amount of fats we can produce on that same acre in the form of butterfat, so if one is looking from a humanitarian point of view at the feeding of starving Asia it is far better to increase the production of edible oils than it is to increase the production of butter.
However, this is not true in regard to milk proteins. So far as the milk proteins are concerned, the dairying industry has a real part to play in feeding a hungry world and also a real part to play in providing the overseas exchange which is required for the Australian economy. So our principles in regard to processed milk should be different from our principles in regard to butter, where there is as I have said this extraordinary impending avalanche of butter for the overseas market.
There is one other point I wish to make on this subject. The production of milk as opposed to butterfat does not have the same differential inefficiency in the northern zone. It may be that in the northern zones the type of dairy cattle should be changed. But it is also true, I think, that the northern zones which cannot compete efficiently in regard to butterfat may not be at the same disadvantage when it comes to the milk proteins which are definitely more important than butterfat and on which we should be putting our emphasis. I consider that in allocating the large amount to butter we should have given more consideration ‘o the greater claims of diversification and the greater claims of processed milk products. I have much pleasure in supporting this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Anthony) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 6 April (vide page 1026), on motion by Mr. Chipp:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill is designed to encourage tourists to come to Australia and visit our tourist attractions. It is also designed to stimulate the earning of export income and, by attracting tourists here, to develop our tourist industry. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill but it has several aspects which we consider should be criticised. The Bill has two sides. Its purpose is to induce people through promotional activity overseas to come to Australia, spend their foreign currency here and therefore earn export income for Australia. At the same time they will increase in Australia directly and indirectly through the circulation of money activity which will provide greater stimulus to various industries.
I have said that the Opposition does not oppose the Bill, but I should point out that its purpose is to streamline the promotion of tourism outside Australia. It does not appear to give consideration to aspects of tourism inside Australia - the other side of the coin. In other words, we are to streamline activities to increase the number of tourists travelling to Australia to visit our tourist attractions. There must be no weak link in the chain. Plans must be co-ordinated properly. After promoting tourism overseas we have to receive the tourists and show them our tourist attractions so that they will go home happy to tell more people about Australia. That is the main criticism we have of the Bill.
The Bill is concerned principally with overseas tourism, part and parcel of which are the conditions laid down by the HKF report, ‘Australia’s Travel and Tourist Industry 1965’, which stated that we must develop our tourist attractions at the same time as we publicise them overseas. That is common sense. It is of no use aiming at a target of 300,000 to 700,000 tourists within ten years if we do not have in Australia the facilities for them. Have we the facilities?
I will give an example of a weak link. I could give plenty, but I will give only one. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s unique attractions. Let us imagine that we have great promotional activity for tourism overseas - in America, England or somewhere else. As a result, the tourists come to Australia to visit the Great Barrier Reef. They will go to Mackay, the gateway to the Barrier Reef, from where they will visit the islands along the Barrier Reef. But first they will land at Brisbane airport. We know what that is like. There they will board planes for Mackay on which they will get good treatment. I have seen in literature overseas Mackay advertised as the gateway to the Barrier Reef. On landing at Mackay, if it is raining there, as it is to-night, they will run like rabbits for about 215 yards, in some instances less. There are no umbrellas at the airport. They then come to two sheds.
This is at the gateway to the Barrier Reef! After having been feted on an aircraft from Brisbane passengers might want to use the conveniences, but if it is raining they will need an umbrella as these facilities are across the road.
What I have said illustrates the need for co-ordination. It is no use our having promotional activity unless we have good facilities to attract tourists. The Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities, who is also Minister for the Navy, will know that recently two naval ships berthed at Mackay. But does he know that there is no post box at the Mackay Harbour and that sailors and tourists who go there day in and day out have to hire taxis and travel three miles to post letters? This is the other side of the picture. All I am doing is highlighting these things to show that there must be coordination between overseas advertising and the facilities in Australia.
As another example, Seaforth is a magnificent tourist resort, but the nearest telephone is between one and one and onehalf miles away. Apparently it is too costly for the Postmaster-General’s Department to provide a telephone service there. The Minister and the Australian Tourist Commission must give far greater thought to such matters when considering streamlining the promotion of tourism overseas and bringing more people to Australia.
The Bill before us provides for the appointment of five voting members, two of whom will be selected from nominations made by bodies connected with tourism. One member will be from the Department of Trade and Industry, and I have no argument about this because that Department has a vital interest in overseas trading matters. The other two members could both be public servants, too, so there could be three public servant members and two from the tourist industry. It appears from the Minister’s second reading speech that one member may be from the Prime Minister’s Department. I do not agree that this is necessary simply because Commonwealth and State relations are involved. The Department of Trade and Industry is well aware of these matters. Surely we should get the four best men available in addition to the member from the Department of
Trade and Industry. I hope that when considering nominations the Minister will select, in addition to the representative of the Department of Trade and Industry, the four best members he can find in accordance with the provisions of this Bill. If there are to be three public servants, that is all to the good. If they know their job, we will have no hesitation in supporting their appointment. All we say is that the four best men should be appointed in addition to the one public servant member specified.
The Minister’s second reading speech contained language which is rarely used in this House in introducing a Bill. It seems that the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Department of Trade and Industry and the Australian National Travel Association are all patting themselves on the back. The Minister used such language as:
Honourable members will be aware of the dynamic reputation that the Department of Trade and Industry has built up over the years.
This is not the only Department that has built up a good reputation. This statement is typical of the patting on the back tactics used during the Minister’s second reading speech. One wonders, in fact, just what the purpose of this type of flowery language is. It is extraordinary language for a Minister to use in a second reading speech. I must also make another comment. I do not intend to be disrespectful to the Minister under any circumstances but I do think the fact that the Minister for the Navy is now also, under the Minister for Trade and Industry, Minister-in-charge of Tourist Activities, is not in the best interests of the Navy.
The second point - I repeat that this is not a personal reflection on the Minister because I do not wish to speak at any time in that way - is that I do find it difficult to understand how the Government bypassed one of its own members who has in fact a reputation in Australia and overseas as being one of the top authorities on the tourist industry. I refer, of course, to Senator Ian Wood who last year was lauded by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and Industry, as being one of the top authorities on the tourist industry in Australia. He has often been lauded for his efforts. He has seniority in service in the Parliament and he has tremendous knowledge of promoting tourism both in Australia and overseas. He has worked at it all of his life.
– Would the honourable member not agree that the Minister’s background is pretty appropriate to this portfolio, or does he not know the Minister’s background?
– In the second reading speech the Minister says that he is quite new to this.
– He is new to the portfolio.
-Order! The honourable member for Kooyong will cease interjecting.
– The portfolio that he happens to be talking about relates to the tourist industry. He himself says that he is new to it. As I said before, I am not being disrespectful to the Minister when I say that I find it hard to understand why the Government sidesteps a member of its own Party who is an acknowledged authority on the tourist industry and who has actually been lauded by the Deputy Prime Minister for his knowledge of it.
The Bill also provides for two non-voting members, who will be nominated by the State governments. This, of course, will enable State governments to take an active part in the tourist industry. My earlier comment about an extra public servant was not meant to be disrespectful. There are plenty of precedents for public servants to be observers. They act as such in dozens of statutory authorities and committees. They can be non-voting observers and take a very active part. That was my only point about getting the best people for the job. One thing that we would like the Minister to explain is the provision in relation to accepting gifts. This is something that I think needs explanation. Just what does it mean? I should think there is probably no need for the provision but it may be to safeguard the interests of people who are accepting gifts, earning commissions, or whatever it may be, with respect to a particular job that they have done.
In relation to persons serving on the Commission, there is a puzzling aspect as to how one is to judge people who have a vested interest or who have some consideration in respect of a particular contract. For example, if the Commission is deciding on a publicity campaign in relation to Hayman Island, does this mean that anybody concerned with Ansett Transport
Industries Ltd who may be on the Commission would be excluded from having a vote? How relevant and how important would this be in relation to a contract concerning Hayman Island? If one of Mr Ansett’s representatives happened to be on the Commission, would he be ineligible to vote? Also, if there were a contract in relation to travel around Australia on a Pioneer bus - this, too, would be Mr Ansett’s concern - would the same principle apply? If a representative had something to do with Mr Ansett’s interests, would he be unable to vote? Is this the way it works or not? It is not clear in the Bill how this would work. What interpretation would be put on it?
The purpose and powers of the Commission are set out quite concisely in the Bill. The Opposition has no objection to them. Principally the Commission is to be concerned with publicising Australia - with publicity campaigns aimed particularly at tourists from overseas. The Bill is careful to distinguish the powers of the Commission so that it will not clash with State interests. In other words, most of its work will be confined to the attraction of people from overseas. But provision is made so that there can be collaboration in such things as research in conjunction with travel bureau and with the transport industries who do this type of work in Australia. I feel that this collaboration also is necessary.
In his speech the Minister referred to the investigation carried out by the consultant firm of Harris, Kerr, Forster and Co. The firm projected that by 1970, under certain conditions, Australia should get 320,000 overseas visitors and that by 1975 the figure should be 607,000 visitors. But as I said before, this is only one side of the picture. The consultants put forward these projections and estimates subject to certain conditions. One of those conditions was the development of tourist attractions in conjunction with a streamlining process overseas. I mentioned earlier the tremendous problems associated with keeping tourists happy in tourist areas. I spoke of my own area because obviously I know it best. But certainly the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) must co-operate with the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. It is no good the Minister making efforts to stimulate tourists to come from overseas if we do not attend to the needs of tourists in Australia. I have given a scandalous example in the making of a building which does not even have a toilet. People have to walk across the street.
The second condition made by the consultants was that there should be coordination of Australia’s tourist industry with the Commonwealth and State Governments as well as the travel industry assuming their proper roles. The third condition was that transport costs to Australia have to be reduced. The fourth condition was that there will have to be an intensive and aggressive promotion programme carried on in conjunction with the carriers and other interests to penetrate the major market areas. Fundamentally, this is what the Australian Tourist Commission will do. It will conduct an aggressive and imaginative programme to attract tourists to Australia. There is no doubt that Australia has the potential to absorb tourists. We have the potential to earn tremendous amounts of export income provided we co-ordinate our activities in the Federal and State field, and” in such areas as civil aviation, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and the airways. I hope that this co-ordination will be one of the main objectives and purposes of the Commission.
The Commission will find - as no doubt the Australian National Travel Association has found - that overseas there is great ignorance about Australia. Perhaps I can illustrate this best by telling honourable members of my own experience. I had the privilege of living in the United States of America for several years. I was down in the deep Mid-west, in the southern part of Illinois, doing some field work. Some people connected with the university work there expressed amazement that I had a white face. I was somewhat shocked to think that they should not know what sort of people lived in Australia. They were genuinely interested. I must admit that the people of the Mid-west in America are a little out of touch with many things. Some thought that most of the people of Australia were descended from the Aboriginals.
I have quite a humorous story to tell. They asked me what tribe I came from. I had an answer to that question because, as a matter of fact, I was born in a place called Gin Gin. I said: ‘I come from the Gin Gin tribe’. I also said - and this is a fact too - that my great-great-grandfather happened to be buried in the cemetery at Gin Gin. I forgot all about the incident; but these people did some research. Before I knew where I was they were writing letters to Gin Gin to find out whether my greatgreatgrandfather was or was not an Aboriginal. That is the sort of ignorance that exists in many places.
The undeveloped resources of the tourist industry offer tremendous scope for rapid development of an industry that could become one of Australia’s great industries. As the Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities has pointed out, already it ranks among the first ten earners of overseas income. There can be no doubt that, even if the figures were gross and not net in terms of money that Australians spend overseas, the tourist industry has a great potential.
Australia has resources which are unique and which rank with the best in the world. They are the resources that overseas people want to come to Australia to see. Overseas people do not want to come to Australia to see Sydney and Melbourne; they want to come to Australia to see the kangaroo. That might seem strange to us. But the kangaroo has an intense fascination for overseas people. Many of them think that we have kangaroos jumping up and down our streets. Of course, kangaroos do jump up and down some streets in Australia; but many overseas people think that kangaroos graze in the streets of our capital cities. This does not hurt us.
We have the Great Barrier Reef which without question is one of the unique wonders of the world. We also have tremendous tourist potential in the Alice Springs district - the dead heart. I spent several years in that area working on land classifications. I assure honourable members that I do not want to go back there - at least, not to where the tourists go, namely Ayers Rock. If has a fascination. It is a monolith. It is unique in the eyes of the world. We must exploit it. Then there are the Kimberleys. People who have seen the colours of the Kimberleys must for ever marvel at them. The paintings that Namatjira did of central Australia depict the tremendous natural assets that we have in that area.
There are things that we take for granted, such as our beaches and surf. Make no mistake that the surf and beaches at Bondi and in Queensland and Western Australia - I cannot speak about the surf in Victoria - is far superior to anything that Hawaii can offer. We know what a tremendous impact Hawaii has had on the world as an earner of income from the tourist trade. I have already referred to the attraction of our kangaroos. We have also koala bears, brolgas and a wide variety of parrots. All these things we take for granted.
– There are a few galahs about.
– The biggest galah in this House sits on the Country Party benches. Our trees - the eucalypts, including the blue gums and the ghost gums - we take for granted but they have a tremendous attraction for overseas visitors. The Australian Aboriginal is a fascinating character to overseas visitors. It is a pity that we are not more concerned about him. You have only to be in Alice Springs to see how the tourists stand goggle eyed when the Aboriginals come to town. These are people they have read about. They have seen films of our Aboriginals performing their corroborees. These are attractions we can sell. I will leave it to my colleagues to deal with the attractions of South Australia. There is no doubt that the attractions of Tasmania, the Blue Mountains of New South Wales and the wild flowers of Western Australia are unique.
– And the Gippsland Lakes.
– And the Gippsland Lakes. All these things are unique to Australia. We must exploit them. But are we developing our unique assets? This is the point on which I harp. Exploitation of our assets must be complementary to this Bill. What do overseas visitors want to know about Australia? They ask about our wool and our sheep. They do not ask about Sydney or Melbourne. They want to see something they have not seen before. They want to return home and tell tales to their children - and some pretty tall ones at that. It does not matter how much you extol the virtues of tourism; in the end tourism wilt earn you money. This is a matter for super salesmanship. But above all we must have in Australia the attractions to be able to keep overseas visitors happy.
Another aspect of tourism which I would mention is the attraction which certain parts of Australia hold for overseas scientists. Make no mistake, this is a real attraction. I refer particularly to the tropical and subtropical areas of Australia. Northern Australia has no homoclime. This is one of our greatest problems in agriculture. We have difficulty in introducing plants into northern Australia because no other country has the same conditions as we have. This is one of the great problems confronting the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Northern Territory Administration and the Governments of Queensland and Western Australia. These bodies are developing their own techniques. Already the work of the CSIRO in Townsville on tropical legumes has attracted worldwide attention. The work of the Townsville University College is something we can exploit. The College will develop into one of the best tropical seats of learning in the world. It will be an attraction overseas, particularly in Asia. People will come to Australia to do post graduate research at the College. This will earn income for us. Here we have something unique in the world.
In the field of animal industry the work being done at Belmont in genetics has already attracted worldwide attention. Scientists are anxious to hold major international conferences in Australia to see what we are doing in areas which have no real counterpart, as far as comparability goes, with any other place in the world. Take, for example, our arid zone, which is one of our main problems. What research are we doing there? As soon as we establish research facilities in the arid zone, we will attract research scientists to this country to study. They, in turn, will bring with them their families and so provide export income. Great credit must be given to the pioneers of the tourist industry for they have battled against great odds and with very little help from either the State governments or the Commonwealth Government. Take for example the sterling work done on the Barrier Reef by the pioneers of such islands as Hayman Island.
– Reg Ansett.
– Reg Ansett did not pioneer Hayman Island. Men like Captain Hallman pioneered that island as did the
Bauers at South Molle. Then we have those pioneers who, almost entirely with their own hands, developed Happy Bay, Brampton, Lindeman, Long Island, Green Island and Heron Island and the others. They all deserve a pat on the back for the great service they have rendered to Australia, as do other pioneers such as O’Reilly of the mountain region on the border between New South Wales and Queensland. All these men need help and they must be helped if the industry is to be developed. These pioneers have taken great risks. They invested their limited capital; they have slaved hour after hour and day after day for an objective which is now coming to fruition. The importance of the tourist industry to any area cannot be over emphasised. One area in which this industry will make one of its greatest contributions is the monoculture sugar industry area. There, on the Great Barrief Reef coast, we have a serious unemployment problem only because it is a monoculture area. It has only one industry, and a seasonal one at that. When the season is over there is no other employment. The tourist industry could help solve this problem.
We have seen what it can do in the Alice Springs area where for years the area concentrated entirely on the cattle industry. I venture to say that today in that area the cattle industry takes second place to the tourist industry. The tourist industry is developing around Darwin as well and indeed throughout the Northern Territory. It is fast becoming one of the most important industries of the Northern Territory and all this because of the sterling efforts of the pioneers in these areas. But, whether one goes to Ayers Rock or anywhere else in the Territory, the track and conditions are still pretty primitive. Areas such as this need help. I might mention that the position can become very embarrassing in the outback, especially for our overseas visitors. For example, on the 200-mile journey from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock they may decide to drink bore water. As honourable members know, mineralised bore water can have disastrous consequences for people whose stomachs are not accustomed to it These might seem only small matters, but in the ultimate they amount to a great deal. My friend from Moreton (Mr Killen) who has had some experience in the Barcoo area knows only too well what will happen if a person drinks too much highly mineralised bore water.
– Hear, hear!
– The honourable member agrees with me. The point I am making is that the tourist industry is tremendously important and is complementary and supplementary to established industries. For example, in the Great Barrier Reef area where the sugar industry is a monoculture and where we definitely and desperately need alternative industries, the tourist trade can make a tremendous impact on the economy of the region, not only in terms of employment but also in terms of national income and our capacity to earn export income for Australia. One must pay great tribute to bodies like the Mackay Development Bureau and the Hinterland League which have always put tourism first and foremost before the people.
I propose to state for the benefit of honourable members an estimate of the value of tourism to an area made by the Mackay Development Bureau. This is the only estimate that I have been able to find with respect to one town. The area, for the purpose of the making of the estimate, can be regarded as a complete cell. I presume that the Minister has seen an estimate of the value of the tourist industry to Mackay. The stated value includes an estimate of the value of the tourist trade in the islands in the area. One is agreeably surprised when one sees that the estimated value of accommodation paid for 1965 on the small number of islands of the Barrier Reef in the vicinity of Proserpine and Mackay was $2m. Fares on Roylen cruises amounted to $560,000. The total value of accommodation paid, stores purchased, freights paid and fuels purchased amounted in 1965 to $6m. I suggest that this is a magnificent contribution to the economy of the area and illustrates clearly the great value of tourism to a depressed town when there are problems of unemployment. If it were not for the tourist industry many more people would be unemployed than the 1,000 who are now unemployed. It is essential that the Australian Tourist Commission does its utmost to be able not only to promote tourism to Australia and in Australia but also to develop the tourist industries. 1 should be grateful if the Minister would explain why the resources of the tourist industry cannot be treated in exactly the same way as other natural resources in the matter of Commonwealth financial assistance. I can see no argument against this proposition, nor can I see any difference in principle between the Federal Government providing assistance for the tourist industry and its providing financial assistance to a State government for the development of land resources, as in the brigalow and other areas, or the development of resources such as the islands or the maintenance of roads. What is the difference in principle between the provision of Commonwealth financial assistance for roads for the beef cattle industry and assistance for roads to aid the tourist industry? Provided a sound case is made and that a benefit cost analysis, or whatever analysis one wants to apply, can show that the expenditure to be incurred on, or to be invested in, an asset such as a road can be justified, I can see no reason why tourist resources cannot be treated as being in the same category as, for example, beef roads, land development or water development. We are developing an industry that we know will bring export income to our country.
The main criterion adopted by the Federal Cabinet to determine whether the Commonwealth will assist a State has been whether the development project proposed will add to our export income. This criterion has been laid down in regard to beef roads, the brigalow scheme, hydroelectric power schemes and water conservation projects. I can see no reason why the tourist industry cannot be put into this category. I can see no reason why the Queensland Government cannot carefully prepare a case for financial assistance to develop tourist resorts and the tourist industry generally in that State.
– What about other States?
– My remarks apply to the other States including Western Australia, and to the Northern Territory, where the potential exists to develop a tourist industry which would earn export income for Australia. I can think of plenty of areas where, I believe, superficially one would have a very good chance of justifying the development of the tourist industry on economic grounds. The Alice Springs area would appear to be a very good case in point, judging by the mounting number of tourists going there.
I have put before the House the main points that the Opposition wishes to make. We do not oppose the Bill. I again emphasise that this is one side of the coin. The streamlining of our promotional activity overseas must be carried out carefully so as not to clash with the activities of the various States and in order to preserve Commonwealth and State relations. This has always been the first sort of move made in Commonwealth and State relations, whether we have been dealing with extension services, agriculture or anything else we may wish to mention in CommonwealthState relations. Each State is very jealous of its own powers. But the States realise that if they are to develop their own tourist resorts, then they must have finance. The authority that has the finance to carry out this development is the Federal Government.
The last point that I make is the one that I made earlier in my speech. There must be complete co-ordination between Federal departments on this matter. As I said before, we cannot have a first class authority such as the proposed Australian Tourist Commission doing a first class job in bringing tourists to Australia if, when these tourists arrive at the magnificent tourist attractions that they have been told about, they have to go through laughable facilities to reach those attractions. This applies particularly where the servicing facilities are under under the control of the Federal Government. With those points in mind, I again say that we do not oppose the measure. We think that the Bill is a good one. I repeat that I hope that the Minister, when he chouses the five voting members of the proposed Commission, will choose the five best people available to him and that he will choose them fairly. We do not want the Australian Tourist Commission to become a subsidiary of the Ansett organisation. The five voting members of the proposed Commission must be chosen with one objective in mind - that is, to promote tourism in Australia and to develop the tourist facilities of Australia.
Debate (on motion by Dr Mackay) adjourned.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
States Grants (Science Laboratories) Bill 1967.
States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill (No. 2) 1967.
Bill returned from the Senate without requests.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– There is one matter J want to bring before the House in continuation of something I said on the adjournment some few nights ago. On that occasion 1 referred to the conduct of a man called Bert Nolan who is, as I said, a member of the Victorian Executive of the Australian Labor Party. At that timeI pointed out to the House that there were a number of factors about this man that showed his Communist connections - his Communist affiliations - but at that time I said that I had not received a copy of a pamphlet which he was alleged to have written and which was alleged to show strong Communist leanings. I promised the House that if I obtained a copy of the pamphlet I would bring it before the House. I now have a copy of the pamphlet in my hand. It was printed by Coronation Press which, in Victoria, is the press of the Communist Party. It is signed by Mr Bert Nolan, the Secretary of the Seamen’s Union. I understand that the pamphlet has been distributed through Communist sources. I have read the pamphlet and it reveals quite clearly that this man Nolan has given his heart and soul to the Communist Party and supports Communist objectives.
I hope later to lay this pamphlet on the table of the House so that honourable members can see something of it, but let me read from it one passage which will show the kind of thing it is. Honourable members will know that in Berlin the Communists built a wall to separate the two parts of the city, and that they use this wall as part of their prison barrage which runs the length of the Iron Curtain. They use it to incarcerate people in East Berlin who want to escape from the Communist so-called paradise across to West Berlin. Honourable members know that even today this wall is manned by guards with guns who shoot down people who endeavour to cross into non-Communist territory. The wall is a symbol of infamy. This is what this man Nolan says about the wall; and I quote:
A few days after my arrival in Berlin, I was shown around many interesting places, including some very gay, old beer gardens. One of my guides asked me if I wanted to see ‘The Wall*.
Sure enough I want to see it’, I said. This wall has become a piece of historic curiosity, and even in Australia there is a lot of talk about it. They have a song about it, too.’
Very well, then,’ he agreed. And so we set out to see the wall.
On our arrival all was quiet, and the young border guard on our side greeted us with a broad grin. We chatted with him for a while when he was relieved from his duty, and exchanged a few cigarettes. Whilst we were chatting, there was some disturbance from the other side, which our guard chose to - ignore, stating that it was ‘one of the calculated moves by the Western authorities to strain our nerves’. All the while an American helicopter could be seen hovering low, up and down the wall - this can be seen from early morning till dark.
Now I understood the necessity of setting up the wall, in the face of constant provocation, sabotage and espionage, which is very well organised (and lavishly paid for) in West Berlin.
A trade union official provided me with some solid facts.
On July 24, .1962, the Government of the G.D.R. submitted a memorandum to all main governments.
This memorandum contained many documents proving acts of provocation from the Western side. A fragment of it reads as follows:
Tunnels have been dug from West Germany into G.D.R. territory.
*2. G.D.R. frontier security installations, all situated on G.D.R. territory, have been damaged or destroyed from West Berlin.
Murderous attacks have been made from West Berlin on G.D.R. frontier guards carrying out their duties on the territory of the G.D.R.
All these attacks have the character of acts of aggression.’
The whole pamphlet is in that same vein. Here is a man who is advocating, on behalf of the Communists, the infamy of the Berlin wall. His pamphlet is published by Communist sources. I now believe fully the allegations that were made against him by Mr P. O’Brien, who is the President of the Melbourne University ALP Club. It is clear that this man has been a double dealer and only a few weeks ago was making statements to the Communist Tribune’. It is fairly clear also that his evidence to alibi himself from association with the Boonaroo’ dispute was a tissue of lies. Whether or not he be a member of the Communist Party, he has given his heart and soul to the Communist cause and this pamphlet shows it. This man is also a member of the Victorian Executive of the Australian Labor Party. This Executive stands in a different position from some other executives because, as we see by rules 138 and 139, it controls the selection of Labor candidates in Victoria. That is why honourable members on the other side, some of whom are anti-Communist, cravenly sit down under the Communist policy.
– I take a point of order. I object strongly to the comments of the irresponsible member for Mackellar. He has said that we are cravens and that we sit down under the dictation of the Communists. He is allowed to get away with it.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. It is in order for an honourable member to refer to a political party in the chamber, but he cannot make personal accusations against another honourable member.
– But he glared at me while he was saying it.
-Order! The point of order is not allowed.
– If there are Victorian members who have the courage to stand out against the pro-Communist policy endorsed by the Executive in Victoria, let them now stand up and say so. Is there one of them who will have the courage to say that this man Nolan is unfit to be a member of any decent political party? Is there one of them who would have the courage to get up in this House and say that this man who, on the basis of his own signed writings, has given his heart and soul to the Communist Party, to our Communist enemies, is unfit to be a member of the Executive that has the power of political life and death over Victorian members of the Labor Party?
When the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) described this man in the House as being treasonable and traitorous, Mr Nolan objected. Well, let us have a look at those words. Was he treasonable and traitorous to the Australian Labor Party? He is obviously treasonable and traitorous to the professed objectives of the Australian Labor Party, but he does not seem to be so much at variance with the policy of the Australian Labor Party. Apparently he is approved of by Opposition members in this House, so the accusation that he is treasonable and traitorous to them is perhaps a technical one. But he has aligned himself with our Communist enemies. He makes common cause with the enemies of Australia. There is no doubt that he was involved in the ‘Boonaroo’ dispute. To its credit, I believe that the Victorian Branch of the Labor Party denounced it and refused to be associated with what he was doing. But the Labor Party did not carry this to the point that they did, for example, with the honourable member for Batman; they did not expel him. They were frightened to take action against him. Why is it that when members of the Labor Party do anything that is in any way opposed to Labor policy but supports the policy of this country against its enemies, as the honourable member for Batman did, they are expelled? But when they do something which is contrary to the alleged policy of the Labor Party and which favours our Communist enemies they get off scot free. Why is it? Are they craven? Let them stand up and speak now.
– I feel that I should sound a note of warning to this Parliament about the most dangerous kind of Communist who masquerades in the community as an antiCommunist. We know that for many years now the Communist Party has had agents operating in foreign countries. The most successful of these agents are those who first of all succeed in establishing in the minds of the authorities of the countries concerned a feeling of trust and security in their company. They do this first of all by becoming known and identified clearly in everybody’s mind as a dedicated antiCommunist. By this means these dangerous people are able to obtain information on behalf of the country that they represent; they are able to sit on special committees; they are able to gain entree into circles which have access to defence secrets; they are able to get onto foreign affairs committees; and they are able to sit and have cups of tea with people who are freely talking in their company about matters of great and important concern to the security of the country.
Some of these people, of course, have been cunning enough to have been antiCommunists all of their lives and to be able to disguise their true identity and feelings towards Communism. On the other hand, with most of them you will find that their very real feelings in this matter can be discovered by going far enough back into their history. There you will find that the seed of Communism was planted in their minds very, very early. So they decide that they can serve this foreign ideology best by disguising their true identity and true feelings so that they can creep into places in order to obtain information under the guise that they are fighting Communism. Good hearted trusting people will give them information that can be of great value to their masters.
I am not one who can say positively that the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) is one of these people, but I do know that by looking far enough back into this man’s history one finds some evidence of his past sympathy for the Communist Party. He has never denied that many years ago - long before he came into this Parliament as a young man - he commenced a venture on the south coast of New South Wales. He started to publish a newspaper called the ‘Illawarra Star’. This gentleman offered a prize known as the Illawarra Star Cup to the team of unionists which was able to put on the best performance on what day do you think, Mr Speaker? Not on Anzac Day, not on Christmas Day, not on Easter Monday, but on May Day. Is there not some significance about this? The owner of the ‘Illawarra Star’, the honourable member for Mackellar, gave this Cup to the team of unionists on the south coast which could put on the most militant and most spectacular performance as marchers on this wonderful day - May Day. Who do you think won it? The rest of the unionists were never satisfied with the judge’s decision. The judge, I am told, was prompted by the donor of the Cup to give it to the team from the Waterside Workers Federation. The leader of the Waterside Workers Federation team was none other than one of the most dangerous Communists this country has ever seen, Mr Ted Roach, and the honourable member cannot deny it. In my mind’s eye I can see the honourable member now. He was not a member of Parliament then, of course. Nowadays he is different, being an honourable member, but at that time he was not a member of Parliament. He came up and in a craven, slavish fashion we saw him almost genuflecting to Ted Roach, the Communist leader of the Waterside Workers’ Federation, as he proudly presented to him the Illawarra Star Cup.
But more came out of this. Further inquiries were made because the other unions, the right wing unions, claimed they had won the march competition and they asked why it was that the left wing Communist controlled Waterside Workers Federation should have been given the prize. It was later discovered - this has been alleged against the honourable member and never denied - that Mr Ted Roach spent two evenings before the day of the march secretly closeted in the house of the honourable member for Mackellar, and it is pretty clear that it was then that the conspiracy to give the cup to the Communist team was worked out between the honourable member for Mackellar and the Communist leader of the Waterside Workers Federation.
Of course the honourable member attempts to laugh it off, but when we hear him accusing Mr Nolan and other people of being Communists, members of this House who have been here as long as I have will remember that the honourable gentleman has never contradicted convincingly, at any rate to my satisfaction, the allegation made against him, and recorded in Hansard, by the present member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Curtin) that he was a secret member of the Communist Party. The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith said he had personally seen the card that was issued to the honourable member for Mackellar. The honourable member has never satisfactorily explained away that allegation against him, and now he gets up here and reads from this pamphlet written by Mr Nolan. His real purpose, I suspect, in reading great slabs from this pamphlet is not .to destroy Mr Nolan but to read out the views expressed by Mr Nolan. Anybody listening to these views, torn from their context as no doubt they were, would begin to think that there was some justification for the Berlin wall. Listening to the honourable member read out these slabs about these allegations - false allegations I am sure - that the people on the Western side were shooting at the people on the Eastern side, one might be lead to conclude that the wall was necessary in order to prevent the East from being submerged by the West; to prevent the West from carrying out subversive activities against the East.
What a clever, subtle way of putting out Communist propaganda and the Communist point of view - saying: T am an antiCommunist, but listen to this’, and then reading out these passages that sound terribly convincing to the uninitiated. I am not affected by his method because I know too much about the propaganda of the Communist Party, but people who are less experienced than I and other members on this side of the House might be led to believe, after listening to the honourable gentleman’s diatribe tonight, that the Communists had every right to put the wall there.
I think it is about time that the honourable member came clean on this matter. He ought to stand up and let us know just what did happen in the front lounge of his house many years ago when he and Mr Roach were secretly closeted before the Illawarra Star Cup was handed over to the Communist marchers on May Day of that fateful year. We ought to be able to hear a positive statement from him that he was not then in fact a secret undercover member of the Communist Party. He ought to tell us now so that we will know where we stand and that when he reads these slabs of material damaging to the Communists he is in fact fair dinkum and is not just playing the Communist game.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. Now, as I have done frequently before, I deny absolutely and completely the fabrications which have been put out by a man who, I think, knows them to be fabrications. I have never been a member of the Communist Party. It is true that the paper with which I was connected did offer a prize for a Labor Day march. I did not know at the time that this had been done. The daughter of the man who was editor of the paper subsequently married Dr Evatt’s son, so it is pretty clear that there was at work a certain amount of Labor influence which I had not understood entirely before.
-Order! The honourable member is reminded that he is making a personal explanation. He must not use the opportunity to debate the issue before the Chair.
– In view of the attack which has been made on me I ask for leave to make a statement.
-Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted. The honourable member for Mackellar will continue with his personal explanation.
– I can only say that the honourable member for Hindmarsh has been guilty of uttering deliberate, filthy and complete fabrications.
– On the note of fantasy produced by the honourable member for Hindmarsh I think it would be appropriate to move:
That the question be now put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.7 a.m. (Friday) until Tuesday, 2nd May 1967 at 2.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Can be say how many (a) adults and (b) persons under twenty-one years of age are not covered in respect of (i) medical and (ii) hospital benefits?
– This information is not available.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
How many commercial poultry farmers are there in (a) each State and (b) Australia? % How many commercial poultry farmers in each State have been exempt from payment of the poultry industry levy?
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The great majority of these producers were indebted because they were late with their levy payments - i.e. they had omitted to make the payments of the full amounts owing, within the fourteen days required under the legislation. A penalty at a rate of 10% per annum is payable on the amounts of levy remaining unpaid. In accordance with the requirements of the Poultry Industry Assistance Act a similar report will be made to Parliament on the operation of the Act in respect of the year ended 30th June 1967 as soon as practicable after the end of the year.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 April 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1967/19670420_reps_26_hor55/>.